Last week, I heard someone quoting John 5 on the radio and it was opened up to me in a whole new way.
Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.]
A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?”
The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
The above quote is from the NASB; you can read the whole chapter here.
I’ve heard this passage discussed quite a bit in recovery circles. In fact, it’s the basis of Steve Arterburn’s challenging book “Healing is a Choice“.
And what has always stuck out to me was the man’s response. I always viewed him as sort of making excuses in his reply to Jesus. After all, he didn’t answer Jesus as to whether or not he wanted to get well; rather, he pointed out the reasons why he couldn’t get well.
But on this occasion, I was most struck by the fact that the help he needed was right in front of his face, but he was unwilling or unable to see and accept it.
Do we sometimes ask the wrong people for help? Are the people who are available to best support us right in front of our faces, and yet we don’t reach out?
A few months back, I was feeling a bit lonely and undersupported. I was lamenting this fact to Roy: all my friends are busy, have kids, have jobs, live far away, boo-hoo, no one loves me 🙁 He reminded me of my pregnancy with Bear, that I had a list of women who I emailed on a regular basis with updates. What was stopping me from doing that again?
What was stopping me was that I hadn’t thought of it!
I have 3 women I am accountable to, so as Roy suggested, I started emailing them regularly with an update to ask for prayer. Two of them live far, far away (as my 3.5 year-old son would say), and one of them lives about an hour away, so while I don’t see them often, I know I have their support in prayer.
One of my default settings is to feel abandoned and rejected. I think that’s part of why it’s a challenge for me to reach out. But I can’t complain about having inadequate support if I never actually asked anyone to support me. So I’ve also started asking others for support & help, even if they are likely busy and will say no. I can make an active choice not to allow past rejection & abandonment keep me from having deep, connected, supportive relationships.
Maybe the man at the pool had a similar default setting as I do (I’ll be talking about “default settings” thoroughly in a future Freedom Friday, but just imagine it’s the place and space you find yourself falling back to). It wouldn’t be surprising, given that he’d been sick with something for 38 years, and no one was helping him get into the pool (likely the only way he thought he’d ever be healed). There was nothing wrong with his plan (to have someone lift him into the pool), but he was so fixated on that plan that he didn’t see the help that was available right in front of him.
Where have you been looking for help? All the right places, or all the wrong places? Have you been so fixated on a particular plan that you are sure would work that you can’t see that the help you need is readily available to you?