6 “When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’”
John 5:6 (ESV)
Did Jesus just ask a paralyzed man a stupid, insensitive question? I don't think so. Perhaps Jesus noticed something less obvious that He wanted all of us to see.
Here's the scoop. That crippled man was suffering from more than a lifelong leg injury. He had mind and heart paralysis. (In fact, we all do.) This was the bigger issue Jesus saw.
His question exposed a paralysis inside this man that often God sees occur in all of us. Bouts of self-pity and hopelessness had struck him hard. They collapse all of us, way more than we think.
Interestingly, sometimes we actually prefer paralysis. We think facing change could be worse. That's the insidious thing.
We come to believe self-pity and hopelessness are quietly acceptable. They aren't.
Self-pity is as destructive as pride. It cripples like pride because it is pride, just dressed in different clothes. In both cases all the attention centers around me.
Hopelessness is destructive too. It takes the fight right out of us. Comparison and competition fuel it. We see others as better, and we can't win for trying. That's what this man saw. (v7)
So what heals the paralysis of self-pity and hopelessness? Jesus doesn't point to the man's faith. He points to this:
The SPIRIT of God: The power of God rests here. He points people to Himself (Romans 8:11).
The WORD of God: The Word changes our thinking. Great change happens here (Psalm 1; Psalm 19:7-11; Romans 12:2; Philippians 4:8).
The GRACE of God: God's grace powerfully activates and unleashes itself in the midst of our confessed weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
The PURSUIT of God: "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you" (James 4:8 NASB).
The COMMUNITY of others: God repeatedly calls us to a “better together” through godly friends as family (Hebrews 10:24,25; James 5:16).
Spirit, Word, grace, pursuit, community -- these are the things that consistently make us well and keep us healthy.
Reflect: What might be paralyzing you right now? In what way do you seek wellness? Specifically, how's your fight with self-pity and hopelessness going? Which of the five “wellness” words needs attention?
A prayer to consider: Thank you, Lord, for noticing me. Keep speaking life to me through Your Spirit, Your Word, fresh grace and other believers.
Help me to pursue You even in my brokenness. Free me from crippling self-pity and hopelessness. I want no paralysis. I want to be well. Jesus, heal for Your glory in me and my joy and rest in You. Amen.