Do you really want healing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
When we read John 5, we read the story about a man at the pool of Bethesda wanting to be healed by being put in the water. Jesus asks him if he wants to get well. The man says he wants to, but every time the water starts up, someone gets in before him. Jesus heals him at that point.
Now I know skeptical readers of my blog will think that event never happened, but that doesn’t matter right now. I want to focus on something else. That question Jesus asks can seem surprising. Do you want to get well? Of course, he wants to get well! Right?
Sometimes, we talk about the problem of evil and personal suffering with sickness of some kind, be it mental or physical. Now most of us would say we want to get better if we have something, but do we really want to get better? The reality is that sometimes we do not want to get better. Some people base an identity around their sickness.
“Whoa, Nick. Hold on a second. I have an email from you and in your email you say you’re an Aspie. Aren’t you identifying with your condition?”
Yes. I am. I also would not take a cure if I were offered one because I think the condition has a lot of strengths to it that I don’t want to risk losing. However, I don’t speak about Aspergers saying “Woe is me!” Instead, I speak about it saying, “Yes. I have this condition, but I choose to overcome the deficiencies and live a successful life.”
Not all people do that.
Sometimes it has been said that happiness is a choice, but do we really want to be happy? If we do, we need to realize that means letting our guard down many times and not having control of our lives given to others who don’t deserve that control. Some people don’t really want that.
In some ways, when we do that, we are holding the universe hostage, or at least trying to. “I won’t be happy unless XYZ is going on in my life.” Make it whatever you want. It could be a great marriage, a great career, great kids, your sex life, the health of yourself or others, or any combination thereof.
Perhaps we should really ask what does it take to make us happy? If we are Christians, do we truly need anything besides Jesus Christ for our joy? Now when I say that, this isn’t to say that other aspects of life shouldn’t bring us joy or can’t. Many of the items mentioned above are great for bringing joy. However, picture any of them and ask “If you lost that and you still had Jesus, could you have joy?”
This isn’t to say you wouldn’t mourn what you lost. There is a place for sadness and mourning. We are told to weep and mourn with those who weep and mourn. We’re not told to just say “Cheer up and get over it.” There are real realities to mourn. Jesus Himself wept at the graveside of Lazarus, even knowing what He was going to do.
But if we say that we refuse happiness unless we have anything else in our lives, then we are putting ourselves in our own prison. If Jesus asked us “Do you want to be well?” our answer could very well be, “No.” It might seem like a simple question, but sometimes those are the best ones to start with. If you are not having joy in your life right now, well why not?
Whatever it is that you’re lacking in your mind, do you have to have it? I am not saying it wouldn’t be nice if you did, but is it essential for your joy? If it isn’t, then what is? If it is, then you are making your joy dependent on that and do you really want to do that?
This doesn’t mean also you try this path alone. There’s nothing wrong with seeking out a good therapist and good friends. Recovery from some matters is not easy. If it is physical health, you can still have joy. My friend, Ed Komoszewski, has a virus that has been rampaging his body for years and causes great pain, but talking to him you’d never know it. He’s got a lot of joy. It’s not easy, but he has it.
If we complain about evil, let’s make sure it’s not of our own making. Suffering has very little to do with what actually happens to you. How you respond to it personally makes up most of the suffering that you go through. What happens to you is usually not in your control. What you do in response usually is.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)