the loneliness of suffering

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. [John 5:2-9 ESV]

I have to come clean and say that this question of wanting to be healed troubles me.
I experience intense arthritic pain at times - ankle surgery awaits me.
My first wife died of diabetic complications and Ann suffers from a paralyzing neurological disease.

I pray all of the time - I want to be healed and I want Ann to be healed.
So I find that my heart has to come to grips with Jesus' question.
And I am sometimes challenged to not take offense when this question comes up.

I begin by saying that Jesus knew that the man wanted to be healed.
And he knew that it was the Father's will for him to be healed.
His question is puzzling yet the man's response is quite revealing.

Do you find it interesting that the man never really answered Jesus' question?
The expectation is that the man would have shouted "YES! I want to be healed"
But instead he says that he has no one to help him in his quest for healing.

Can you feel the pain and the loneliness that this man is experiencing?
Does compassion rise up in you when you think about his paralysis?
Where do you think his friends and family were these past 38 years?

I love that Jesus walked into this man's loneliness, pain and suffering.
The man was sick for almost forty years and wanted, dare I say prayed, to be healed.
Yet healing did not come until Jesus arrived on the scene.

It is an object lesson for us about our need to help those who are helpless.
Would it be that people like this man are befriended by people like us.
How great it would be if those in pain did not have to suffer alone.

Help us dear Holy Spirit. May no one ever have to suffer alone.

... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.


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