What kind of question is that?? That is the last question to ask me when I am sick! Migraine headaches used to be a chronic complaint for me. I HATED those headaches. They made me nauseous, made me feel like I was losing days out of my life. When I was in the grip of a migraine I wanted to be asked if I would like a cup of tea; what chores needed to be taken care of; would I like anything to eat Don’t ask me if I wanted to get well – of course I did, who wouldn’t!
At the pool of Bethesda, Jesus asked a man at this question. According to the account in John 5, this pool was known as a place where miraculous healing occurred. When the water was stirred/moved, anyone going into the water would be healed; pretty simple, pretty amazing! The man Jesus spoke to had been visiting the pool, hoping for healing but he was never fast enough. He had been waiting for 38 years!!! His answer to Jesus question? “I have no man to put me in the water…someone goes before me!” He does not give a direct answer to Jesus’ question, instead, he makes an excuse.
When I had one of those hated migraines I would try almost anything to relieve that pain. Whenever I am sick I will do whatever it takes to get better, I will swallow the yucky tasting medicine, eat the bland food, stay in bed – oh wait, that last one is not so bad! I do not enjoy being sick and I’ll bet you don’t either!
Jesus tells the man to pick up his pallet (mat) and walk, the man is instantly healed. But Jesus KNEW this man’s problem was much deeper than just needing a helping hand. In addition to his obvious disability, this particular man was also spiritually sick. Some time later, read what Jesus says to him in John 5, verse 14, Afterward Jesus *found him in the temple and said to him,“Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.” Note that in this case (but certainly not EVERY case), this man’s illness was caused by sin in his life. The man at the pool was spiritually sick. Knowing this, Jesus question, ‘do you want to get well’, takes on a deeper meaning. If I am willing “do whatever it takes” to get well when I am physically sick, what is my excuse for my spiritual sickness? Why do I tolerate my own spiritual sickness and stay in pain? When I allow myself to dwell on thoughts of past sins, failure, feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, powerlessness, anxiety, physical imperfections, self-pity, etc., etc, you get the idea; I am choosing to stay spiritually sick!
There was little I could do to prevent those migraines. I found that staying well rested and stress free was somewhat helpful but I could never completely escape them. I have learned that spiritual sickness is a lot like my migraines or any other physical sickness; it can’t be completely avoided but, by doing some work, some preventative maintenance, the intensity and duration of my spiritual sickness can be lessened. My daily “must-do’s” are:
- Read the Word of God, The Bible – no substitutes, no shortcuts! Daily time spent reading the Bible is absolutely necessary to spiritual health! Pick a place to start reading and keep moving to the right; if there is something you do not understand, ask God, keep reading, God will make it clear. If you have never read the Bible, I suggest starting with the Gospel of John.
- Pray – talk to God anytime, anywhere, all the time, everywhere. Especially at the first symptom of spiritual sickness pray this prayer, “God, I can’t, you can, help me!”
- Worship – sing along and listen to words of praise, dancing optional and highly recommended. Remember this is to the audience of One!
These next two should be done regularly but especially when you realize you are spiritually sick:
- Writing – put your thoughts and feelings on paper (or on your computer). This is between you and God only, no one ever needs to see or read them; write until you feel like it is all out and then tear it up/delete it. As you write/type, picture Jesus, he watches with love. Take frequent pauses to listen to God.
- Accountability – call, text, email or visit a trusted friend. Choose a friend who will agree that your spiritual sickness is real, who will not condemn you for being sick, who will pray with and for you and most importantly, will point you back to Jesus and The Word and hold you accountable!
Jesus asked the man, “Do you want to get well?”. Jesus is asking the same question today, “Do you want to get well?” If the answer is yes, then, like the man at the pool, we need to pick up our pallets, we need to stop making excuses and get to work. Then, Jesus will do the healing!!!