By Pastor Tony Smith
I was reading in the Gospel of John. It is one of my favorite gospel narratives. While, I enjoy Matthew, Mark and Luke very much. John’s perspective is a refreshing departure from the synoptics. He writes of an alive and active God. This book is filled with a lot of encouragement. You see this in the story in John 5:1-15.
Have you ever felt stuck? Have you ever felt like you have exhausted all of your options with no success in sight? Have you ever felt like what’s the use?
It was thirty-eight long years, that the man by the pool of Bethesda felt like that. He was stuck! This condition wasn’t a seemingly temporary one. This was his experience for nearly four decades! Certainly, he would have adjusted to the way things were. He would have accepted that he would be unable to walk for the rest of his life. He would have, no doubt, felt all of the emotions that could be associated with his condition. Most likely he went through all of the stages of grief connected to living with this situation.
John 5:4 says that an angel of the Lord would go down into the pool and stir up the water, and whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had.
As incredibly wonderful as this sounds, can you imagine how very discouraging this must have been for a man who couldn’t walk? If only the first person in the water could get healed, then how could he ever expect to experience change in his situation? Certainly, he could have wondered where the fairness was in that. Waiting and waiting with nothing happening. Praying and praying without the slightest improvement. Trying and trying yet no actual change. Have you ever felt stuck like that?
This man may have hoped and dreamed for a different life but there was no change. It was a simple task to accomplish. Just get in the water first. However, he couldn’t and he didn’t. He got used to the way things were. He settled. He accepted his present condition. He wasn’t sick and tired of being sick and tired. Sometimes, that’s us, isn’t it? We settle. We become comfortable with the way things are. We assume: What’s the use? I’m stuck. This is how it is and how it will always be. We think a miracle angel is showing up for someone else but not me.
But then, something way more miraculous happened: Jesus showed up! Come on Somebody Shout! An angel might have been able to stir up the water but Jesus can affect authentic and lasting change. Jesus shows up and shows us what it takes to experience the change we need; to get unstuck; to move forward; and to never be the same again!
Jesus showed up and the first thing He did was ask a question in John 5:6. Do you want to be made whole? That’s where change begins: We simply have to want it. Then He shows us the next crucial step: Stop making excuses. Understand this…we all have a next step to take. You may think that you are just stuck, so that is the way its going to be and that’s that. It is what it is. Let me help you. You have a next step to take. You will never get unstuck until you make it.
This man’s life had been full of excuses. John 5:7. He said “I have no one to help me in the water.” Excuses don’t work with God. They never have. A brisk walk through His Word reminds us of Moses and his speech inadequacies. God just doesn’t accept excuses. However, He does give plenty of grace! It is sufficient!
Listen, as long as you allow yourself excuses for staying the same, you are passively accepting your condition. But as soon as we stop making excuses, and simply admit our need for His help, His grace will show up. James and Proverbs both tell us…He gives grace to the humble. His grace will overwhelm you. Through it, He will change your condition. God’s power is available to those who will simply stop making excuses, and embrace His grace.
Are you stuck? Jesus is aware. He sees your need. He knows what you’re going through. He cares about you and wants to help you experience change in your impossible place today. It’s available to you right now.