“Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, which has five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed. One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’ The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have nobody to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.’ And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked.” (Jn 5: 2-9)

In the thirty-eight years that this man spent on his pallet, he had lived through so many disappointments. Year after year, “another stepped down before him” into the pool, while he was left behind, with his infirmity. He’s so hopeless, by the time Hope walks into his life and asks him, “Do you want to be healed?,” he can’t give a straight answer. He can neither dare to “want” healing anymore, nor can he recognize that he no longer “has nobody,” as before him stands a Somebody, our merciful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, both able and willing to heal him. But Christ surprises the man’s hopelessness, based on his depressing past; on thirty-eight years of disappointment, and heals him to “rise” and even to “take up his pallet,” – that symbol of his disappointing past, – and to “walk.”

Today let me not worry about my “not wanting (enough)” the healing offered to me by our Lord. Even while my past disappointments might be weighing me down, Christ is walking into my life today anyway, and enabling me to “take up” that “pallet” of my past, and to move forward even as I have it with me. I need not shake it off or deny it; I need to carry it with me, as me and my past are enlightened and empowered to do so by His compassionate, loving Word. “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!”

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