There are times in our lives when we feel distant from God, or even worse, feel as though we are forgotten by God.
In John 5:1-9, we are told of a man who was paralysed for thirty-eight years. He had been laid by the pool of Bethesda, along with a multitude of equally desperate people who were waiting for a miracle. It was believed that an angel was sent to stir up the water at certain seasons, and whoever jumped into the water first was healed.
This paralysed man may have laid there for years, hoping that his time would come. He may have fasted, prayed, cried out in desperation, given up, and then encouraged himself to try again. He had reached the point where he felt there was no hope, as he said to Jesus, “…I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me”.
What were the odds of a paralysed man in the ancient world, dragging himself on his hands ahead of others (a multitude) who were equally desperate to get into a pool to receive healing? It was a difficult task which had obviously taken him years of trying to no avail. He perhaps thought that Jesus would be the ‘Good Samaritan’ to sit with him and then carry him into the pool when the water was stirred, but God always has a better plan for us.
Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be healed?”. His response suggested that he did, so Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk”, and we are told that, as he acted in faith to stand up, he was healed.
There are a few points we can take from this man’s experience:
- Delay is not always denial: Sometimes we are too quick to give up on believing or trusting God for what we had hoped for. This man laid there for years, and in the right season he received his healing. God’s timing is the best in every situation. “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…” Isaiah 40:31
- God is personal: In the passage, we are told that a multitude of desperate people laid there, but unlike the times when Jesus healed everyone, this time, He specifically came for the paralysed man. The Lord cares for you in a unique way, and you are precious to Him regardless of your circumstances or how you may feel about yourself. He laid his life down on the Cross to specifically save you, just as he came to this man’s aid. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11
- Your ways are not His ways: The paralysed man obviously thought the solution to his problem was in the pool. His attention and efforts were on getting into the pool in time, however, the Lord had a different solution to his problem. We may sometimes have our own plans and desires and invite God (through prayer) to do things according to our will and in our limited perspective. Personally, I have come to realise that God’s plans are always better than what I had in mind. This is a reminder to be open to God’s will and plans in your life. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord” Isaiah 55:8.
- Act in faith: Sometimes God answers our prayers, but it takes a step of faith to receive it. The paralysed man may well have received his healing and strength to stand up and walk, but if he had laid there waiting to first feel something extraordinary, he may have not realised it. Sometimes the miracle is in doing the ordinary thing out of obedience and taking a step of faith before you can experience it.
As a child of God, the Lord has good plans for you. It is my prayer that you would be encouraged to wait on the Lord, to trust in his love, to be open to his plans and to act in faith.