One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” (John 5:5-6 / John 5: 2-9a)
My first career training was in nursing. I worked in critical care and then as a parish nurse prior to seminary. I loved it. I have maintained my nursing license in hopes that I can do volunteer work for Lutheran Disaster Relief or a similar organization when I retire. My nursing training taught me to see the world with wholistic eyes. Every part of our being is inter-related.
A number of years ago I studied all the healing stories of Jesus. Jesus doesn’t offer healing in any one prescribed way. Some of those who are healed have faith, others don’t. Some ask in person, some don’t. Jesus touches some. Others are healed at a distance. Sometimes it is the individuals who seek healing. Other times it is loving family or friends who ask on their behalf. There is not a particular “formula” for right words or actions that guarantees healing.
It seems obvious that someone who is sick would desire healing. And certainly all of us are less than healthy in one or more areas of our life if we consider the “Wellness Wheel” posted here. Do we truly want healing in all areas of our life? What would change for us if we received healing in the area of our life where we are not as healthy as we could be?
Sometimes we say we wish we could lose that extra weight we are carrying around. Or have a flat stomach, or strong muscles. But how would our life necessarily change if we were to “be made well” in that area of our life? Are we willing to decrease portions, give up the fried foods and exercise regularly? Or is it easier to complain without taking action?
I have a torn rotator cuff and it has bothered me for over six months. I know if I did daily therapy (ie exercises!) it would heal. But somehow I have not managed to make the time for the necessary exercises to heal my shoulder (and drop the extra fifteen pounds I’m currently carrying). Do I want to be healed? What keeps me from being healed?
In the devotional for today in Beyond Question, Eric Burtness describes a woman who struggled with alcohol. Her life had hit bottom having lost custody of her children, her job, and her finances were a disaster.
In her growing despair, Susan asked herself, “What can’t I quit drinking? Why is this happening to me? Why don’t people just leave me alone?” Finally she realized that those dead-end questions weren’t getting her anywhere.
So she started asking herself, “What can I do to avoid drinking this morning? This afternoon? This evening? How can I keep sober, just one day at a time?” After several failed attempts she managed one day of recovery. Then two. Then a week. She went to ninety Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in ninety days. Finally, she was able to turn her will and her life over to God’s care. With God’s help, the downward spiral of her life was reversed.
Susan changed her questions. By changing her questions, she changed her life. One day at a time.
“Do you want to be made well?”
What kinds of questions can you ask yourself that will have positive results in your life?
In what ways do you want Jesus to make you well?
The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as he did, this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
Trusting that he will make all things right
if I surrender to his will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with him forever in the next.