Sunday, November 8, 2015

Can Vs. Cannot: Answering Honestly

I'm reading slowly through the Gospel according to John. I am learning a lot. I was struck recently by the account of the sick man by the Pool of Bethesda.

Jesus asks the man, who has been ill for 38 years, if he'd LIKE to get well. In the ESV translation, Jesus asks him if he WANTS to be healed. What I find striking is the man doesn't actually answer Jesus' question as it is asked. He doesn't say, “YES!!!!! I DO WANT to be healed!!!!!” Instead, he says, “I can't.” He can't physically get himself to the healing waters of the pool. He is limited by his capability (or lack thereof).

There are SO many potential applications and heart checks from this simple question and response!!!!

From the grander, eternally-minded viewpoint, we CANNOT heal ourselves—we cannot remove our sin—ONLY God does that through Jesus' death and resurrection on the cross in which he heals us eternally if we chose to believe this ultimate act of sacrifice, grace and mercy. This is the type of healing of our soul that makes us spiritually healthy and provides us a life that lasts for eternity, far beyond any physical healing that may happen in this temporary home we call Earth.

However, I am struck by the smaller yet very practical application or conviction. How often do I focus more on what I can or moreover what I CANNOT do rather than focus on what God can do in, around or through me? This sick man had no hope because from his viewpoint, he could only see his own incapability. Granted, our limitations can be a gift and of course, God shines brightly through our weaknesses. Yet, I don't think that laying in a hopeless heap is where God wants us to stay. He does want us to 'get up and walk.' I think that this is where faith comes in to play.

Faith is, by the Hebrews 11:1 definition, 'the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen.' I can have hope concerning the promises of God through faith without being limited by myself and my 'cans' or cannots.'