Do you want to get well?

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?” – John 5:6

This has to be one of my favorite Bible stories of all. Jesus sees a man who has been paralyzed for nearly 40 years, sitting by a healing pool, and asks the man what appears to be a really stupid question. But when the man replies by lamenting his victimhood (“I have no one to help me!”), Jesus says, “Go, take up your mat and walk.” And that is when the miracle happens.

I’ve been in discussions with a number of professional people helpers, policymakers, and others who have a keen interest in seeing a return on investment for efforts to provide healing and hope to hurting people. In my work with the Lazarus Project, we are currently in serious discussions about outcome research, measures of success, and quantifiable results. In my work with Safe Haven Family Shelter, we are in the midst of major discussions about ways to end family homelessness and empower families in poverty to achieve lasting self-sufficiency. In my work with family members who could be identified as “codependent” in one way or another, it is a constant struggle to determine how to help a relationship where someone doesn’t seem ready to get well.

I don’t want to reach any psychological conclusions from the Bible story in John’s gospel, but I do find it encouraging to see how Jesus the healer asks the motivational question, ignores the victim stance, and invites his “patient” to make a move toward hope and wellness. The miracle happens when the paralyzed man takes the risk and makes his move.

No matter what the paralysis is in your life, and no matter how long it has been, it’s not too late for a new beginning.

Pool at Bethesda
Photo: Christ Healing at the Pool of Bethesda, Carl Bloch, 1883

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