“Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda…One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, ‘Would you like to get well?’” (John 5: 5,6 NLT)
I used to read this passage and think to myself that it was strange that the Lord would ask the paralyzed man if he wanted to be well. After all, who wouldn’t want to be healed of an infirmity that had rendered them an invalid? What person in their right mind would want to remain in a paralyzed condition? The truth is, as crazy as it may seem, sometimes; we can actually become at ease with our “disease.”
Sadly, many of us are guilty of allowing the pain and hurts we have encountered to produce a “victim mentality” within us whereby we feel justified in using our infirmity to manipulate others. I wonder if perhaps that is why Jesus asked the man lying beside the pool of Bethesda that day if he wanted to be healed. Maybe the man had actually begun to see his illness as a way to manipulate others into giving him money. Have you ever met someone who has actually begun to “romance” their pain and hurt? It’s crazy, but sometimes, we can prefer the familiarity of our suffering over the prospect of being made whole.
You recall the story of how God delivered the people of Israel out of servitude in the land of Egypt. Well, isn’t it strange that when the going got rough, as they traveled through the desert; they actually wanted to return to slavery? They had begun to feel sorry for themselves, thinking that Moses (and perhaps God) had somehow victimized them. They saw the familiarity of slavery in Egypt as preferable to the hardships of a free people. It appears that they sought to manipulate Moses (and perhaps even God) through their whining and complaining. “Let us go back to Egypt; it’s better to be a live slave than a corpse out here in the desert!”
Let me ask you, do you want to be made whole? Will you come and allow Jesus to heal you and set you free? You don’t have to be an invalid resorting to murmuring and manipulation. The sin, the hurt, and the pain that has you paralyzed cannot stand before the One who has come to give you life! Poolside is not the place for you. Put your faith in Him today, and hear Him say to you, “Take up your mat and walk.”