“Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda…” – John 5:2
I am a born and raised Texan, but I momentarily rebelled from my roots and went to college in California (oops). I remember the first time I found myself on a west coast beach, and how I instantaneously fell in love with the ocean that day. Over the years that I spent in California I would often find myself by the ocean because it was there that I was reminded of God’s power. New in my faith, I needed a tangible reminder that I served a powerful God. If something as strong and mighty as the ocean stopped at the shoreline because He simply said so, then everything else must be under His kind and powerful watch too.
There is a story of a nameless man in John 5, and it takes place by a pool called Bethesda. During that time, there was a legend about Bethesda that said that an angel would bend down to stir the waters, and if you touched it, if you were the first to the pool, you would be healed of any ailment. So there this one man was, paralyzed, sitting, and waiting day in and day out for a miracle by a pool touched only by legend. The Bible doesn’t tell us much about him, but it does tell us what happened the day He met Jesus.
Jesus, walking right up to this man, knowing he had been there for thirty-eight years, asks, “Do you want to be healed?” and the man responded with, “Sir, 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.”Jesus, ignoring the explanation and going straight into the solutions responds with, “Get up, take your bed, and walk.” and that man by Bethesda stood up, and walked. Of course, no miracle of Jesus is complete without the Pharisees losing it so in classic fashion, the religious order was appalled by Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath. Then, they found more reason to be offended because the healed man had the audacity to walk and carry his mat, on the Sabbath. Asked who had healed him, the man had no explanation because Jesus had already drawn away. However, afterward, Jesus found the man and said, “See, you are well! Sin no more.”
My love for this story began because when I graduated college, I had to come straight back to Texas so that I could meet with a team of doctors. I was being tested for different autoimmune diseases and I spent months being tired of doctors’ offices, IVs, and having my blood drawn. When the man by Bethesda gave a very blanket, obvious answer to Jesus I understand because it’s the same response I often gave. Whether it’s an illness or another circumstance that you find yourself in today, it’s easy to become quietly resolved to the way it is and regard it as a loss. Holding on to hope is rarely easy when time wears you down. While the doctors were concerned with a diagnosis, I was more concerned with my question for God: “are you going to heal me?” My post-grad aspirations and plans had been replaced with white, sterile rooms and what I found myself needing was God much more than I needed a medical answer.
Instead of taking away my struggle, He gave. He gave me everything I needed to be healed of what my real ailment was: doubt. A lot of life is filled with befores and afters, the sweetest of which is after you come to know Jesus as savior. Every story of salvation is a story of a miracle. You are now His beloved, and from that moment on I believe every one of His children can testify that life becomes a series of Jesus taking you deeper and deeper into unwavering, devoted faith. Last year I got to go back to the West Coast for the first time since I got better, and the ocean still reminds me of the power of God, but it now reminds me of His power to save – in every way. I have no way of knowing for sure, but I would guess that when the man who had once been paralyzed walked by the pool of Bethesda, He was reminded of what God had done. In the hands of Jesus, every valley we walk, turns into good.
“He doesn’t simply meet us at our place of need; He lives in our place of need. He never tires of sweeping us into His tender embrace. It is His very heart.” – Dane Ortlund