Devotional

“One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?” “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.” Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath.”  – John 5:5-9.

Thirty-eight years is a long time to sit on your mat. Every day is the same. Waiting. Watching. Hoping. Sitting on his mat has become a way of life for the man in John 5. He sits by a pool where people with diseases and disabilities wait for the troubling of the waters, because healings happen in this pool. People believed that an angel of the Lord would come and stir the waters, and that whoever was the first to enter the pool after the waters were stirred would be healed of his or her malady. The problem is his circumstances: he can’t get off his mat to be the first one in the pool. So he sits there and thinks, “As soon as the water bubbles then I will get up off my mat. As soon as I get to the water my life will be better. As soon as I get into the water my problems will be fixed.”

At one time or another, and in one severity of another, we all face a pool of Bethesda; that time when we are convinced that our life is nothing more than our circumstances. So we wait for our circumstances to change. As soon as I get that job, life will be better. As soon as my husband changes his attitude my life will be better. As soon as I get to retire, life will be better.   

There are many “as soon as” possibilities that people are dealing with. But while dealing with them, life has been put on hold and we sit on our mat. That is not to suggest that the circumstances of our lives are irrelevant or have no effect. That’s just not true. They do affect us. People are coping with difficult circumstances daily. We are, however, more than the circumstances of our life. Life is not to be found outside our various situations or circumstances but within them. it is not our circumstances that define our reality. Rather, it is the truth of Christ’s love and life in us.  

Jesus does not help the man get into the water. He comes to him on his mat, the same mat and situation the man so wants to escape, and says, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”  Jesus doesn’t change our outer circumstances. He changes us. He calls us into a new way of being, seeing, acting, speaking, thinking. We discover the circumstances have somehow changed. That doesn’t necessarily make life easy or mean we no longer have to deal with the circumstances of life. It makes our circumstances more manageable and we engage them from a different place and position.

The life Jesus offers us does not happen “as soon as ….” It happens today in our circumstances. We simply need to trust God,  “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you have a “as soon as “ circumstance? If so how is it affecting your life? 
  2. Why is it important to remember that God is at work, even in the midst of our circumstances?