“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.” (John 5:6-7 NIV)
When I was a kid, my parents used to play the lotto. They played for years and never won . . . anything. When they felt lucky, they’d send me to the corner store to get their hopefully winning ticket. The winning numbers never came home with me.
Even as young as I was at the time, I wondered why they spent their money on a piece of paper with losing numbers on it. It wasn’t what we could call an investment; it was literally a waste. At least if “chance” had occasionally been on their side, it may have justified the habit, but alas… I still remember the disappointment on my mother’s face as she would listen to the tv host read numbers, and still hear her complain as her hopes dwindled with each ball that settled into place.
Rolling the Dice and God’s Blessings
Whether or not you are familiar with playing the lottery, sometimes it seems like we see God’s blessings, spiritual growth, and host of other spiritual realities like playing the lotto. We send prayers hoping that today will be the day. If we’re lucky, God answers, and if we’re not, He doesn’t. It’s almost like we’re crossing internal fingers that He will hear us this time and finally do what we ask.
And when it doesn’t happen, we’re disappointed, and we complain. Just me? Pretty sure I’m not alone. There was a time when prayer felt like gambling, but I’ve learned something more about prayer since those days.
Coming Up Lucky
Scripture tells us that there was a great number of disabled people who were at the pool of Bethesda. They used to lie next to it waiting for an angel to stir up the water, which happened from time to time. The first person to step in the water when it happened was completely healed. In such circumstances, not everyone would experience a supernatural healing, but only the “lucky” ones.
There was a man who had been invalid for 38 years. That’s a long time! When Jesus saw him, he asked: “Do you want to get well?” Seems like a silly question. Maybe not. Some of us, when we’ve been going through something for such a long time, become so accustomed to our situation that even when opportunity shows up, instead of seizing the moment, we naturally go on what has become our default mode: complaining. And that’s exactly what he did.
God Still Moves
Nick Vujicic is a Christian motivational speaker born with Tetra-amelia syndrome, a disorder characterized by the absence of all four limbs. He may not have legs or arms, but he does have a beautiful smile and eyes full of faith and hope. I was fortunate enough to meet him years ago in Orlando after he had spoken at a Christian publishers event.
As he was heading out of the auditorium, many gathered around to thank him for his inspiring speech. When he saw me looking at him from afar, he came right to me. After a few seconds of staring at each other, he said: “Give me a hug man!” I gladly put my arms around him and thanked him for touching our hearts. And he went on his way.
This man, known around the world for overcaming incredible challenges, is a living testimony of God’s goodness. “I have the choice to be angry at God for what I don’t have, or be thankful for what I do have.” It’s true, we may suffer in this world, but we have much to be thankful for. Please understand, I’m not trying to minimize the intense suffering many people go through. This world is broken and the depths of suffering can be soul-drowning. If that is you rightnow, I pray that God will speak to you and give you the strength you need.
Waiting in Faith
Maybe you’ve been struggling in an area of your life for a long time, and are discouraged. You’ve prayed about it (maybe even fasted), each time hoping that your day had finally come. Maybe it felt like playing the lottery because nothing happened. Know that the Christian’s faith is not a lottery game, and the kingdom of God is not a casino where only a lucky few can hope to win.
Every morning, God’s mercies are renewed for those who hope in Him! Even if you’re not immediately healed or set free from your suffering, there is more than one way in which God shows you His love. Keep trusting in the Lord; He sees you, even as you lie surrounded by other hurting people.
Many waited for those moments when an angel to come down to stir up the water at the pool of Bethesda. But Jesus has come down to be with us permanently as Emmanuel. And even when He ascended to the Father, He did not leave us as orphans: He sent his Spirit to comfort us every day till the end of the world. You are not alone, you are seen, and you are loved.