Sometimes our pain and brokenness feels safer than the prospect of healing.
There’s a story in the Bible about a crippled man. He spent his life reclining next to a pool of healing, but had never been able to make it into the pool.
“When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had been in that condition for a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” John 5:6
I think Jesus asks us the same thing.
It may seem like a foolish question to which we would answer “Uh, of course,” but frequently we choose to remain in a state of unhealthiness. Perhaps:
- We don’t realize that we’re unwell.
- We may not understand how we became unwell.
- We don’t recognize that we’re the ones keeping ourselves in that state.
- We don’t want to let go of the patterns we have learned to live with because even though they’re not healthy, they are familiar and comfortable. We feel a certain security when we cling to them.
- We hold on to unhealthy ways because they keep us the center of the attention we crave.
- We recognize we’re sick, but have no idea how to go about getting well.
Most of our unhealthy patterns of living come from our childhood; we imitate the patterns our family members lived. Or in our determination to survive dysfunction (including abuse) in our families, we’ve adopted warped ways of functioning. We carry these dysfunctions into our future, and they become like leeches sucking the life out of us without our being aware they are attached.
When Jesus asks us if we want to get well, it isn’t a rhetorical question.
He asks because he has a plan to heal us. If we are willing, he will reveal the truth about the things that keep us sick and will lead us into health. But we have to be willing to listen to him and do what he says.
It sounds easy; so why don’t we simply get well?
First of all, if we don’t realize we’re sick, will we go to a doctor? Once, I had been feeling ill for a number of weeks. When I finally went to a doctor, she sent me immediately to the hospital! I knew things weren’t right, but I had no idea I was that sick. So sick, in fact, she expressed her surprise that I was alive. I was used to living as a survivor—one who survives in terribly adverse conditions by the will to get through one moment at a time. That isn’t life; it’s simply not succumbing to death. In that mode, it’s no wonder that we don’t realize the extent of our illness, physically or emotionally.
Secondly, are we willing to ask for help?
Many of us are reluctant to go to a doctor with physical ailments. (Or a counselor for emotional issues, right?) Don’t we fear pain, embarrassment or the guilt of having neglected our situation or selves? We may feel shame which insists we suffer in silence rather than uncover ourselves and get well.
Finally, healing is painful, and we don’t want to face the time it takes to get well.
As a child, one of my daughters broke her arm badly. Of course, she was taken to the hospital where the doctor informed us she would have to be anesthetized and have her wrist set. Though the bone had not punctured the skin, her wrist was deformed. Obviously, she was in tremendous pain. It was in the middle of the night (she had fallen out of bed), so she was tired and frightened about the impending surgery. She also feared missing an upcoming sports tournament due to her broken arm.
What if, in order to save her from more pain and fear, I had decided not to have the doctor fix her arm? Anyone would think that decision ridiculous. The outcome would have been a permanent disability.
We are no different if we allow ourselves to remain deformed emotionally because we fear the pain that comes with whatever it takes to heal us.
God says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8
He has a plan for our healing if we are willing to ask him to show us what steps to take. Do you want to be made well?How has God healed you? Are you struggling with the fear of healing?