There’s a really beautiful story in the gospels of a man who was broken. He was badly crippled, but in that region there was a pool famous for having powers to heal, but only at certain times of day when, it was believed, an angel came and stirred up the water. This broken man tried day after day to get into the healing pool but the area was crowded with sick and injured people and he didn’t have the strength to get through. He felt hopeless and completely alone. He blamed his external circumstances—his handicap and the selfishness of the people around him who wouldn’t help him find healing.
Jesus comes across this man and asks him a very peculiar question. He asks, “do you want to be healed?” By all external logic, the answer to this question seems obvious—of course he wants to be healed! Not only is he crippled, he spends day after day pursing the only option he knows of to be healed.
So many times, I feel just like this man. I know that I’m broken. And so many times I feel I am working so hard to fix my brokenness. I’m working on my self. I’m working on my marriage. I’m fighting through the fights. I’m biting my tongue. I’m sticking around in all those moments when all I want to do is run away. I spin my wheels day after day, trying to do all the things that I think need to be done to make me whole again. I’m like the man by the pool, trying so hard to just get to that place where things will get better.
This man rooted his hope in one specific goal; he thought, “If I can just make it to the pool, I can be healed.” We all have our own versions of this hope. For some of us, this might look like trying to get past this season—“if I can just get done with school, things will get better.” Or “maybe if we can just make it till the kids are a little bit older, we will start to heal.” For others, the hope might be placed in a specific person or group: “if we seek counselling, then we will be able to work through our issues.” “as long as we keep our friends close, we will get the support we need.”
The man at the pool told Jesus, “if I could just get someone to help me to the pool, everything would be fine.” We do this too; we try to blame the people around us for not helping. “If he would just stop lashing out at me, we could make progress.” “If she hadn’t done what she did, we wouldn’t be here in the first place.” The troublesome thing is, these circumstances are real. And many times, our proposed solutions are not bad ideas. Getting counselling, engaging in community, having patience till seasons pass, or working towards personal growth—these are all great things that really might help.
But Jesus looks past all these external things. In effect, He tells this man: I don’t care that you’ve admitted your brokenness. I don’t care that you’ve shown up to the place where you’re supposed to be able to find healing. I don’t care that no one else is giving you the support that you think you need. What I care about is what’s going on in your own heart. In your heart of hearts, do you want to be healed?
Sometimes we forget that being healed isn’t an easy fix. Especially when all you know is brokenness, the thought of having a different life can actually be terrifying. I remember battling severe chronic illness; I thought all I wanted was to be well. But I also remember that as I went through recovery, trying to live my daily life in my new post-broken state was overwhelming at times. It was a whole new unfamiliar world with new responsibilities and expectations that I felt completely un-equipped face. There were times I even wished I could go back to being broken—at least then no one expected anything of me. Even now, it’s so easy for me to try to cling to things about myself, even when I know they are hurting us. I know sometimes that my approaches and my perspectives are causing problems, but the truth is I don’t want to let them go. They make sense to me. They feel familiar and manageable. I would rather hold onto my pain than give up my pride.
I had a moment with God just this week where I had come to a breaking point and I was pleading with Him to just tell me what to do. And then I felt these words pressed hard into my heart, He asked me: “If I told you what to do, would you do it?” And it wasn’t until that moment that I realized, in my heart of hearts, the answer was no. I wasn’t looking for God to heal me if it meant giving up the things I cared about. I think oftentimes we find a twisted sort of comfort in our brokenness—it’s familiar, it’s who we are—but it’s not who we’re supposed to stay. Jesus wants to call us out of our brokenness, and best of all he has the power to do it.
One of the things I love about this story of the broken man is we don’t know if he had ever made it into the pool if he would have been healed. I do believe that there are both natural and supernatural things in nature that can have real healing properties. And so I don’t’ know. If he had actually made it into the pool, I don’t know if he would have been healed or not. But when I read this story and I watch my Savior walk onto the scene, I know in that moment that this man’s life will be changed, because I KNOW that my Jesus has the power to restore brokenness. The truth is, I don’t know what things may have the power to heal your hurting. I don’t know if your friends or family can help you. I don’t know if your counselor can make a difference. These are external things that may or may not have the ability to heal. But I know that Jesus does.
And Jesus starts with the heart. I believe that just like he spoke to this broken man, He is trying to speak into each of our broken places. He looks at us with love and then He says: it’s not enough that you’ve owned up to your brokenness. It’s not enough that you are showing up to a place where you could find healing. There’s no one else who can do it for you. You have to start by looking into your heart and honestly asking yourself: do you want to be healed? Do you want to let go of the hurt and the pain and be free? Do you want to surrender your rights and your expectations and receive what God gives you? Do you want to move on to new challenges and different stages of growth? This is not an easy question. But if we can get to the place where our answer is yes, God can do incredible things—beyond anything we can ask or imagine.
Do you want to be healed?