Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Do You Want To Be Well? Part 1 by Dr. Thomas Lane Butts

Do You Want to Be Well?
Part I. written by Dr. Thomas Lane Butts

The Gospel of John tells an interesting story of how Jesus healed a man who had been crippled for 38 years. The man went each day to a pool at the "Sheep Gate" where it was believed that when the waters were "disturbed" the first one in the pool would be healed. It is a long and rather convoluted account, which you may wish to read. There is a salient point in the account where Jesus asks the man if he really wants to be healed.

This seems a rather strange question to ask this poor man who for 38 years has been entombed in a profoundly crippled body! Everyday for 38 years he has dragged this crippled body with impotent and useless limbs down to this pool to try to be first in. He probably has almost made it a few times, but other more agile afflicted people with friends to help them push past him, and he has had to crawl back to that cursed pallet where he has lain for so long. Almost 14,000 days it has been and somebody beat him to the sacred waters every time.

"Do I want to be healed? Would I like to be made whole?" He doesn’t even answer the question. He just tells Jesus he has nobody to help him and someone else steps ahead of him every time. You would think the poor fellow would be a little discouraged by now.

"Do you want to be made well?"

Foolish question! But is it now?

It is not so impertinent a question as it may sound. He did not answer the question. He only offers a complaint in the form of an excuse for not having been able to get into the pool. By now he may be wondering if it would even work for him. By now he may have lost hope and quit really trying to get in the pool. It would be easy to just make a feeble gesture that would look like he is trying and then settle back on his little bed and say: "Well I didn’t make it again." Who knows what 38 years had done to his heart and soul?

It may well be that Jesus knew or sensed that the man has become content to remain an invalid. If he was made well he would have to shoulder the burden of making a living and take responsibility for himself. It happens, you know. There are invalids for whom invalidism is not an unpleasant condition. It attracts a certain amount of sympathy, and somebody else has to work and worry about paying the bills. Hypochondria is not so rare as you might think. I know lots of people who enjoy poor health. I would dare say most of us have at least some small degree of hypochondria.

Have you ever caught yourself wishing you could get sick enough to not be able to go to work for a few days? In 57 years I’ve seen lots of Methodists get a little sick on Sunday morning, at least too sick to come to church, and then be completely well by Monday morning. Have you ever found yourself to be mildly ill and try to squeeze a few more days out of the illness in order to be waited on by your husband or wife and enjoy a little more of that warm sympathy that you do not get when you are well?

Can we be well when we are getting some secret benefit from being sick? Can the doctor, or God, make us well when our illness is tinged with, or completely the result of, hypochondria? It is clear that Jesus had some question about that. Do you?

Stay tuned and we will explore this business of being sick and being well in more detail next week.

AN ENCOURAGING WORD for June 21, 2007 - written by Dr. Thomas Lane Butts, Pastor Emeritus, Monroeville First United Methodist Church

1 comment:

J said...

Hey, here is that website i was talking about where i made the extra cash.. later! i'm going to cali next week..check this out