It wasn’t long ago that I hit bottom. I was deeply discouraged. I was disappointed in myself. I felt stuck…with no way out. And what little hope I had was fading. I’ve been there before, but this was a new low.
It’s hard for me to even say those things, because I like to have my act together. I like to be the guy who helps others, not the guy who needs help. Even though it’s the seasons of suffering and brokenness that qualify me to help others, I’d still rather not go through them.
A number of years ago, I made the mistake of being angry with God and feeling disappointed with Him when things seemed to be falling down around me. I’ve said it before, but that led me down a dark road. And it took a number of years to find my way back.
Having learned my lesson…although I hesitate to say I’ve “learned” anything. Let’s say just say I’m “learning.” So I’m learning not to blame God when things go wrong and difficulties come. But that led me to make another serious mistake.
Rather than blaming God for my troubles, I blamed the only person who could be responsible…me. I was no longer pointing a finger at God, but at myself. I doubted myself. I felt ashamed and embarrassed. I could no longer see the light.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe you’re in a season like that now. It could be your health. Your finances. Your job. Your marriage or a relationship with a child. Whatever it is…it feels like nothing is working.
I have to believe the man in John 5 who’d been paralyzed for 38 years could relate.
Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. 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?”
“I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”
Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”
Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking!
When you’ve been paralyzed for 38 years, I imagine you give up hoping you’ll actually ever be well. I don’t know what it’s like to be paralyzed for almost four decades, but I know what it’s like to have a chronic condition for more than four decades.
I’ve had psoriasis since I was around 10-years-old. It’s a condition that causes red, scaly patches on my skin. Even after all these years, it still makes me self-conscious. I used to hope and pray it would go away, but I don’t any more. It’s something I will always live with.
That had to be what the paralyzed man was thinking. Even when Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well, he said, “I can’t…” Getting well was up to him and he couldn’t even see the possibility of being healed and his life getting better.
I think it’s interesting that Jesus doesn’t repeat the question, doesn’t correct him and doesn’t rebuke him for his lack of faith. There are other instances where Jesus heals someone in response to their faith, but not this time. He simply heals a man who maybe had no faith left and could no longer see the light.
If your faith is failing and the light is dim, all I can do is encourage you to not give up. In my next post, I’ll share what happened in me that gave me the hope to keep going…
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