grace healing

Do You Want to Get Well?

4:47 PMHeather

As the morning of our 22nd anniversary dawned bright and beautiful, it was obvious that my husband was not only sick, but he was getting worse. It was time to cut our little get-away short and get him to a doctor. We needed to get him well because of the demands of the week ahead. 

It was rather ironic that I was reading in John 5 that morning. 

"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?' " (John 5:5-6, NIV). 

I looked over at my notation from the last time I had read this passage. There in the margin, I had written, "Dumb question." 

I obviously won't be writing a theologically-sound commentary on Scripture any time soon. 

Do you want to get well? 

I had glossed over those six words countless times. Discounting them because they made no sense to me. Ignoring them as insignificant. 

But not this last Saturday. As my husband and I made plans to get him to a doctor quickly, I sat with my Bible open to this passage.

Do you want to get well? Silly question.

Or is it? 

 Image courtesy of Unsplash

 As I read on through the passage, it struck me. 

Every word. Every word of Scripture is God-breathed. So why these six words? Why are they included here? 

I paused to contemplate it. Even breathing a prayer for understanding and clarity. 

Then it came to me. Jesus asks this question of the invalid --
if he wanted to get well -- not because he doesn't know the answer. He didn't pose the question for his own benefit, but rather for the benefit of the invalid. Jesus asked because he knows. 

He knows that the invalid and the crippled can get stuck. 

We get stuck in the identity painted for us by our circumstances. 

We get stuck with how others see us and how others treat us. 

We get stuck with the definition of ourselves that circumstances and opinions dictate. 

We dwell in our pity party, our sin habits, our addictions, and our chains. We dwell in these stuck places for so long that it becomes comfortable. It is familiar. It becomes normal. So, Jesus asks, "Do you want to get well?" 

Jesus challenges every single one of us with this question. 

Do you want to get well? Are you hungry for help? 

Within his question, Jesus proclaims that you can avoid letting your broken places become your comfort zones, coddling self-pity as your comfort item. 

Maybe you're not sure what wellness might look like. Maybe the idea of anything different scares you. You might choose to be as stubborn as the Israelites in Jeremiah 42. Within this chapter, the people of God were advised by the prophet Jeremiah to NOT return to Egypt. 

Egypt. Where the Israelites had formerly been enslaved for 400 years. The place where they were delivered through the dry land with the plunder of their former captors, the Egyptians. 

Yet the stubborn and stiff-necked Israelites are plotting their return to Egypt. So God sends them a word through the prophet Jeremiah. 

You can nearly hear Jesus himself whisper to these people, "Do you want to get well?" 

The Lord has promised the Israelites that he will indeed save and deliver them from the king of Babylon whom they fear (Jeremiah 42:7-10). He promises them that they will be planted and built up if they don't return to Egypt. And God warns them through Jeremiah, "If you are determined to go to Egypt and you do go to settle there, then the sword you fear will overtake you there, and the famine you dread will follow you into Egypt, and there you will die," (Jeremiah 42:15-16). 

We are so like the Israelites. 

Their story is our story. We convince ourselves foolishly that our Egypts aren't that bad. That, in fact, they are better. That we should choose to dwell there. 

We tell ourselves that our habits aren't that harmful. That it's the just the way we are. That it's how our family does things. That things can never be better or different. 

We lull ourselves into accepting our Egypts as the better option. 

We are like the invalid, lying for thirty-eight years in the same condition. We replay and rehearse the ways we've been wounded. Crippled by the painful words of others. Paralyzed by the rejection and abandonment. The insecurity takes root, and the words echo within our souls until we've convinced ourselves the horrible accusations are actually the truth. 

(Lest you think me harsh, rest assured. I'm speaking to myself here). 

We convince ourselves that we've inherited the short end of the stick. We come from broken families and broken places and we numb the pain with habits that become addictions. In fact, we rationalize our choices for so very long that we feel pretty good about them. 

We brush any word of warning off, because we tell ourselves that nobody understands. Nobody gets it.

What we fail to see is that we are the invalid lying near the other disabled people, just a few feet away from healing waters. 

We've existed there for so long that we think it dumb when Jesus asks, "Do you want to get well?" 

Of course. Of course we want to get well. No one would WANT to continue in a broken condition. 

So, we retort as the invalid did with Jesus. 

"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," (John 5:7). 

I have no one to help me. No one is for me. God isn't there for me, or else life wouldn't be this hard. I'm stuck. This is my fate. This is my life. Everyone else has it better. It's just not fair. While I'm trying to get ahead or get better, someone goes ahead of me. I lack the money. I lack the resources. I lack the support. I lack, I lack, I lack. 

But Jesus breaks through the crippling deceit within us, that leaves us caged, with this burning question. 

DO YOU WANT TO GET WELL? 

Do you believe that the One who conquered death can actually break the chains in your life? Do you want to take the brave and bold and courageous step to change things up? To step out of the prisons and step into the wholeness that Christ offers us through his sacrifice on the cross? 

Do you want to truly leave the past behind and dare to forge a new path? Do you want healing so badly that you are willing to do whatever it takes, break whatever addictions and habits that must stop, and take a leap of faith? 

Do you believe that God can indeed heal you and that he is the Victor? Oh, that we might believe that we are not what the circumstances and the opinions of others say we are. 

Do you want to get well? 

"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 5:8-9). 

Jesus says, "GET UP!" 

Pick up your mat. Pick up your comfort zone. Pick up your lot in life and the hand you've been dealt. Pick it up. Quit lying around on it. Do the work. Dare to take up your cross and follow him.

You see, the next verse in the passage explains that the healed man and Jesus were rebuked by the Jews for doing work on the Sabbath: "It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry mat," (verse 10). 

In other words,picking up your mat and carrying it is work. It takes great effort, in other words, to refuse to be crippled by your past, by your wounds, by your circumstances. Day after day after day, you must ask yourself if you want to get well. And be willing to do the work.

Don't let the wounds from others be bigger than the wounds of Jesus for others.

It is no small thing to say that the grace extended to you is so extravagant that you must obey God's call to extend it to others and quit living under the weight of unforgiveness and bitterness. 

It takes great effort to refuse to give into the unhealthy coping skills and sinful habits and addictions and to say no more. 

It takes great intention to stop and prayerfully evaluate what you are allowing in your life. It is a strain to quit rationalizing all that you refuse to release that actually has you crippled and paralyzed. 

It takes exertion and struggle and sweat and strain to say no more. To say, enough is enough. To say, I can't change my heritage, but I can change my legacy. To hear Jesus' question to you and realize it's not dumb at all. 

Instead, it is the most relevant question to ask when your circumstances clash with a Jesus who heals. When your darkness is met with the Light of Christ.

It requires more brutal honesty with yourself and your Savior than perhaps you think you can manage. 

Do you want to get well? 

Jesus is asking. God is inquiring of you. 

Do you want to live in a wholeness and healing that can happen when your pain and stuck places encounter the Divine? 

You may get up and still walk with a limp. The pain in life may still cause a dull ache. You will bear scars from your battles. You will still endure sickness and wounds from others. 

But you don't have to be constrained and defined by it. 

It requires work. It requires that you quit making excuses. 

It demands that you consider the question of wellness and you dare to take a step toward it. You pick up that mat. And you carry it. You carry it day after day, and the most incredible part of it all is that God says we can cast all our cares on him, (1 Peter 5:7). 

We can actually ask HIM to carry our mats, for "surely, he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows...he was pierced for our transgressions,, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him," (Isaiah 53:4-5). 

For we are loved with a scandalous love. We've been shown extravagant grace. 

By his stripes, we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). 

Do you want to get well? It'll be worth the work.

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