I sat quietly alone on my loveseat with the gas fireplace roaring beside me. Though the TV was on, it was set to mute as I considered my next move. I glanced at my injured foot which was now in a “boot” resting on the coffee table in front of me. I sighed. No one else was home. I just wanted something cold to drink but knew how difficult it would be to hobble with my crutches into the kitchen and return with a cold satisfying drink.
So, my dilemma, as simply as it was: Should I relax my newly broken foot or did I really need a refreshing drink. To myself, yet out loud, I said in despair, “there is no one here to help me”.
Immediately my mind raced to the story of the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda. It is found in the 5th chapter of the Gospel of John. Apparently the sick, the lame and the blind would sit by a pool of water. It was said to have had healing powers when it was stirred – some translations state that it was stirred by angels.
Some scholars believe the pools were at a pagan shrine or temple honoring the Greek god or demigod Asclepius, the god of medicine or medicinal powers. It was said that the healing snakes stirred the waters. And the scholars contribute the medicinal powers and stirring of the water from bubbles that arose from the mineral springs. Others debunk this theory. Regardless, a man sat by this pool of water for 38 years with no one to help him get in. He must have come to a place of despair.
It reads like this from the NIV translation:
Sometime later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. John 5:1-9
What I found interesting about this story is that Jesus walked into the midst of a pagan shrine (if that was the case) not caring about the “protocol” of the day. According to scripture he only approached one individual and healed him, on the Sabbath mind you, which was also against Jewish tradition.
He heard the man’s heart even though the man never asked the Lord to help him. We have heard other stories where people called out to the Lord, but not in this circumstance.
God’s mercy and compassion for those in need, for those who cry out from their heart, is amazing.
It made me realize that he hears, even when we don’t speak. He hears even if an individual doesn’t realize who they are calling upon.
I don’t care if you are:
in a prison cell
amid a war-torn country
in a COVID ward
on center stage
looking in the wrong direction for help
rich and famous
poor and alone
in a church family
in a cubical
living on the street
a drug addict
or seem to have it together…. God hears the heart that cries to him.
Where do you find yourself today? What is your situation?
I am telling you DO NOT GIVE UP. DO NOT LOSE HEART. GOD HEARS!
Isaiah 65:24, “Before they call, I will answer. While they are still speaking, I will hear.” (NIV)
Psalm 139 explains that he knows everything about you and cares. He knew you before you did. And Romans 8 states that NOTHING can separate you from the love of God.
What are you waiting for? What can you lose?
Dear Lord, Hear those who are crying from their hearts, those in despair, those who are in need and even those who do not realize yet that they need you. Amen
By the way: I was able to grab that drink. I just had to guzzle it right there at the refrigerator. And then I hobbled on my crutches back to the loveseat to rest my foot on the coffee table. And soon my family returned home. I am grateful that I have something to drink, a couch to sit on in a warm house, and for those who are caring for me, as I heal.
I am mostly grateful for God who will never leave or forsake me, who took the time to go out of his way to heal a paralyzed man thousands of years ago when he had no one to help him. God is the same yesterday, today and forever and so I am grateful that he continues to heal today.
Remember: He cares about every detail of your life…and loves you.