“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
Have you ever thought about this question? The previous verse tells us that this man had been an invalid for 38 years. But before immediately healing him, Jesus asked him if he wanted to be well.
If you’ve struggled with obesity like I have, then you know this question is more difficult to answer than meets the eye. There are many times I’ve asked myself this question “Do I want to be healthy and thin more than I want to eat this ______?” [You fill in the blank.] And sometimes depending on my mood, I take the immediate gratification of eating what sounds good rather than focusing on my long-term goals.
But, do I want to be well? I mean, really, do I WANT to be well? Do I want it more than chocolate? Do I want it more than pizza? Do I want it more than second helpings on the casserole I worked hard to make?
Notice that the man didn’t just proclaim “YES! Of course!” He first blamed his situation on other folks not helping him or getting in the pool before him. How often do we blame our current situation on others? Last night I was annoyed and immediately dug the chocolate ice cream out of our freezer. But, my bad choice had nothing to do with the other person. It doesn’t even have a ton to do with my genetics. Eventually, we have to take some responsibility for our actions.
That said, Jesus didn’t scold the man. He didn’t judge him. He HEALED him! He said “Take your mat and walk!” He asked the man to believe in Him and to take action. In the same way, we have to believe that we are capable of being healed (we CAN be healthy and thin – no matter if we’ve struggled for 38 years or more!). Then, we have to act according to this belief. We have to listen to what God tells us to do next.
Do you want to be well? Count the cost before saying yes. Are you willing to lay down your life and follow Jesus? Even if that means giving up the food you crave? Even if that means dying to selfishness?
I remember reading the success story of a woman whose husband had asked her to get healthy with him. She [an accountant] told him at first, “It’s tax season! You can’t take food away from me right now!” Sadly, there are many times that while we want to be thin, we want to hold on to the comfort of food rather than take a step of faith. Eventually, when her daughter got made fun of at school because of her fat mom, this woman decided that she wanted to lose weight and took action.
God doesn’t usually force us to get well. Instead, He asks if we want it. He desires our best, but He waits for us to say that we’re willing.
As I’ve been thinking about being willing to get well, two verses jumped out at me in Mark 4:“Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!” Mark 4:9 and 4:23. We have to be willing to hear God’s voice! Only then will we understand. Jesus continues speaking, saying “And be sure to pay attention to what you hear. The more you do this, the more you will understand – and even more besides. To those who are open to my teaching, more understanding will be given…” (Mark 4:24-25a).
When we are willing to hear, to truly listen, the more we will understand. What a gift!
So, I ask you – are you willing to be healed? Are you willing to truly listen to Jesus and to act upon what He tells you to do? He could be gently whispering in your ear that after all this time, it’s YOUR turn! Take up your mat and WALK in freedom!
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us enough to come close and ask us if we want to get well. Thank You for not giving up on us, for not treating us as worthless. Thank You that You love us even when we feel unworthy of it. Lord, I pray like David prayed in Psalm 51:12 that You would “make me willing to obey You.” God, help us all be able to say YES when You ask if we want to be well. And then, we humbly ask that You would heal us. Forgive our sin and help us take up our mat and WALK in the freedom that You have given us from dying on the cross. Help us choose life over ease, abundant life over comfort food. Please help us, God, because even though we do desire to become healthy and thin, walking it out is difficult at times. Please be near us and draw us to You rather than anything else. We humbly ask to be healthy and thin for Your glory and purposes. We praise You and thank You that You are able to forgive sin and heal us completely. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!