“Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6) The first time I read this question, I was halted in my tracks. Jesus asked a man who had been physically debilitated for 38 years if he wanted to be whole and start a whole new life. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
I couldn’t imagine anyone saying, “No, I don’t want to get well,” but I have since discovered that many people respond exactly this way. I can’t say I understand why people decide not to grow out of their pain or seek ways to get well but I have observed a number of reasons that hold people back from being their best:
Observation #1: Being well means I have to live a responsible life and some people would rather not be counted on.
Observation #2: Being well means we have to dismiss our excuses. We can’t say, “I am too weak, I am too frail, I am hurting too much, I need more help, etc.” As we heal, we lose our ability to stay out of the real game of life.
Observation #3: Getting well changes our relationships. When we are unhealthy, we gain a reputation of being unhealthy. People get used to feeling sorry for us, letting us off the hook and gaining self-esteem by helping us. When we don’t need this kind of attention anymore, some of our relationships go into shock.
Observation #4: You will probably become a bit of controversy. When the man at the pool of Bethesda was healed on the Sabbath, he became the focus of debate between Jesus and other religious leaders. When you “get well” you often become the subject of discussion by people who wonder if it is real.
Observation #5: When you get well, you have to learn new skills. The skills the man at the pool possessed to beg, ask for help and hang around all day were no longer needed now that he could walk and carry his own bed. It was time to learn new ways of being productive.
Lord, give us the grace to say, “Yes,” when You ask if we want to be empowered by your strength and guided by your courage.