Disclaimer: If you are in the early stages of grief, click away from this post. This post is for people who have been grieving for a long time and are stuck in their grief.
Are you stuck? Stuck in the pit? The pit of grief?
Oh fellow griever, it’s time. It’s time to move forward. Notice I didn’t say move on…. that’s not what we’re working toward here. We’re working toward forward movement. I want you to know joy again.
Read John 5: 1-9
This passage of scripture spoke to me like none other in my grief journey. God pulled the scales off my eyes as I was reading, and I thought, “THIS. This explains my responsibility in becoming healed.
When we begin reading, we see that Jesus was back in Jerusalem and at the pool of Bethesda. We also learn that there were a lot of sick people by the pool. According to different studies, it was believed that an angel would stir (or trouble) the waters, and only the first person into the pool was healed.
At the time of the man’s encounter with Jesus, he had been lame for 38 years. That’s a long time, my friends. Now comes the interesting part. Let’s look at what Jesus says to him in verse 6:
When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”
When I first read this, I thought it was a strange question. Here this man had been lame for THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS. Why would Jesus ask such a thing? Surely this man wanted nothing more than to be healed.
Then it hit me. What if the man liked the idea of being healed, but wasn’t sure about the actual healing? Being lame was all he knew. I imagine it had become a part of his identity.
As grievers, does this sound familiar? Has grief become your identity? What would your life look life if you were “healed?”
Now let’s look at the man’s response in verse 7:
“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.”
See what he did there? The man didn’t answer Jesus’ question but instead gave an excuse for why he couldn’t be healed.
How many times have you thought of being restored with peace from your grief only to immediately think of every reason you can’t.
Yes, in his own strength, the man couldn’t get into the pool first. It was an impossible, hopeless situation for him. Here’s the thing about Jesus: Nothing is impossible for Him. And, if we could do it in our own strength, it wouldn’t require faith.
Now let’s look at verse 8.
Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”
There are so many nuggets of goodness in this verse. First, Jesus isn’t limited by our notion of how we think we will be healed. Notice He didn’t argue or reason with the man. He won’t argue with us either.
With authority, He told the lame man to stand up, pick up his mat, and walk.
Can you imagine what this lame man of 38 years must have been thinking? He was lame…. as in he couldn’t walk.
In your mind, you may be thinking that I don’t know your loss and (metaphorically) you can’t walk. I had those same thoughts.
This is the verse that illuminated my responsibility in my own grief healing. Though I thought it was impossible to “walk,” Jesus told me to what I needed to do.
First I had to have faith in His ability to heal, and secondly, I had to take action- stand up, pick up my mat, and walk.
When you meet Jesus in the pit of despair, He won’t leave you there. He always offers a way out. Our responsibility is to obey.
So what do you think happened to the lame man? Verse 9 tells us.
Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking!
This verse overwhelms me. The Bible tells us he was instantly healed. Then, he picked up his mat and began walking.
What would have happened if he had not obeyed? What if he continued thinking that he was lame when he was really healed? What if he hadn’t rolled up his mat and walked? Would he have died thinking he was still lame lying by the pool of Bethesda?
The thing about Jesus is that He doesn’t do things that make sense in our finite minds. He doesn’t heal us the way we write the script. He does things in ways we may never understand, but He does offer us healing.
I urge you if you are stuck in your grief to pick up your mat and walk.
I don’t know what picking up your mat looks like for you. I urge you to cry out to Jesus for healing. If you have been stuck in your grief for a long time and are having a hard time functioning, it may mean talking to your doctor. It may mean finding someone to talk to. “Walking” will look different for different people.
Jesus doesn’t want you to live in a pit of despair. He promises us joy, peace, and rest despite our circumstances. He promises us this when it seems impossible.
You may feel as though you are the lame man lying by the pool of Bethesda in a hopeless situation. He’s asking you,
Do you want to be healed?