In John 5 we have the story of one of the many miracles of Jesus recorded in the gospels. In Jewish lore it was believed that occasionally an angel would come stir the waters at the pool of Bethesda. They believed that after the waters were stirred, the first person to touch the waters of the pool would be healed of whatever ailed them. As a result it was a gathering place for many who were crippled or invalid. This particular story contains a twist that seems a bit odd.
Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. John 5:1-9
Did you catch the odd question Jesus asks?
Do you want to get well?
Jesus, what kind of question is that? Does he want to get well? Well, of course he does! He’s waiting at the pool. He has been an invalid for most of his life. Of course he’d want to get well, wouldn’t he?
To sign up or not to sign up
This story came to my mind several years ago. At the time I was single. Hoping to find someone to share my life with, but to that point I had not found the right special lady.
I had stumbled across a web site called Christian Matchmaker. This was before the days of sites like Match.com, E-harmony, Christian Mingle, and a host of other popular sites we have today.
As I contemplated signing up and giving it a try, a host of objections came to mind. It probably won’t work. What will people say? What if it does work? What if I did find someone, but they lived far away? And on and on it went in my mind.
It was about that time I stumbled across this story from the gospels. Do you want to be well?
This question has more relevance than we realize. Many times we are faced with areas of our lives that we wish were different.
It might be a serious physical issue like the man at the pool of Bethesda. It might be a relational issue like I was facing. It might be a financial problem like the things we talk most about here on this site.
When we are faced with an area of our life that we wish was different, we are really faced with the thought of change.
Change is hard
Sometimes it may seem easier to just stay where we are as opposed to doing what it takes to change. Dave Ramsey often jokes we are a little like a toddler with a dirty diaper. “I know it smells bad, but it is warm and it is mine.” The line usually gets a laugh, but we recognize there is a grain of truth in it.
Change means facing the unknown
We are like that toddler sometimes because staying where we are is more comfortable than facing the unknown. It means learning new things. Often change means doing things we have never done before. That can be a little scary.
Change may be risky
Sometimes change means taking a risk. Perhaps a part of getting your finances in order requires you look for a new job. But what if that new job doesn’t work out? What if I change careers and find out I don’t like it? People tell me I should be investing, but what if the market goes down and I lose my money?
Change means facing down your fear
Any time we face change, chances are that little voice of doubt will start whispering in our ear. What if? What if? What if? Fear will always stand up and try to convince us to just settle for what we have always done. Fear will try to tell us to do what we have always done. Fear will tell us we aren’t good enough or smart enough to change our lives.
So back to my story. I was faced with the question did I really want to take a chance and sign up on that web site, or should I just continue with the status quo. Like that man lying there by the pool, did I really want my life to change? I decided to ignore that little voice that was whispering all the things that might go wrong and go for it.
The good news is a couple years after signing up on that web site, I was walking down the aisle with the lady I had always dreamed I might find some day. This summer we will celebrate 15 years together.
Not such an odd question
The truth is the question Jesus asked that man by the pool wasn’t really as odd as it might have seemed. Too often we choose to stay in our current circumstances instead of doing what it takes to change, because the known (even when it is painful) is more comfortable than the unknown. We spend years complaining about our lot in life, but in reality we never really try to take the steps needed to change it.
My challenge for you today is if you currently have areas of your life that you wish were different, financial or otherwise, take courage. Step out and try something new. Ignore the voice of doubt, and make some changes. You won’t regret it.