I recently had my first visit to the French doctor. This was the final step in the long process to get my visa (Praise Jesus!!). I am a hypochondriac. I am also afraid of the doctor. This combination does not normally bode well for me, but I make it work. I will say going to the doctor when the doctor does not speak your language has its advantages. For one, I have no idea what he said (I am pretty sure I need another tetanus shot, but we will never really know for sure). There are also disadvantages. (For example, I might need a tetanus shot). But also, if for some reason the doctor would have had to make a more serious diagnosis than my shots being out of date, I would not have understood, and therefore I would have had no means to get well.
This situation has made me wonder, do I actually want to get well. This seems like a stupid question, but when I really stop to think about it, I have to really wonder. My immediate response is yes, of course I do, but if that is true, why was I not taking better steps to comprehend my appointment? I have created all of these excuses for myself, and I have let myself become defined by these limiting factors; I don’t speak good enough French, I am afraid to go to the doctor, etc.
I was really dumbfounded by this thought. How often in my life do I say that I want to be well but then do not take steps to do so? I began to apply this question to other areas in my life. How often do I start a conversation by complaining, or even making an excuse? Once I started to think about this, I realized I do this more often than not. So then I had to come back to the question, do I actually want to get well? Or do I want something to complain about? Have I let these complaints and hardships take over my life, have I let them become my identity? In some ways it is almost as if the complaining has more value than the wellness.
Our campaigners group recently read through the story in John 5 where Jesus heals a man who was waiting at a healing pool for 38 years (John 5:1-17). In the story Jesus approaches the man; “Jesus saw him lying there, and he knew that the man had been ill for such a long time; so he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’” (John 5:6). Again, this seems like a bizarre question, but to me, the man’s response is equally as odd, “The sick man answered, ‘Sir, I have no one here to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am trying to get in, someone gets there first.’” (John 5:7). In his response, he never answers the question, but he gives an excuse for his lack of wellness.
My worry in my own life is that I get used to my situations, to the point where I believe that healing of the pain is out of reach. So am I willing to advocate for myself and make changes in my own life that invoke change? Can I leave behind my excuses and abandon my complaining and put myself into situations where I can be well? The man at the pool was defined by his pain. It was who he was, the man who waits by the pool, the man who was sick. In fact, John never gives him a name, pre-wellness, he is simply called the sick man or the invalid man depending on the translation. But then, Jesus enters, and who he is, how he defined, it all changes. He is changed from the sick man into the man who had been healed (verse 13).
That is what we can expect from saying yes to Jesus’ healing, who we once were, the hardships and things of this earth that we let become our identity go away, and we get a new name. We are no longer defined by the people that we once were, but people who are healed. I don’t want to be defined by the things in my life that are difficult, or live a life that is full of excuses. I want to view these obstacles as things that with the power of Jesus I can overcome. I don’t want to look back on my life 38 years from now and say “well no one put me in the pool when the water was stirred”. No, I want to be well.