Devotional Thoughts: Waiting for an Answer
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One man who had been paralyzed for 38 years was waiting by the pool when Jesus found him.
Through the years how often had the man prayed, "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?"
More than 30 years earlier, when Jesus first opened his eyes in a manager, perhaps the family of the paralyzed man waited with him by the pool of Bethesda. Did they become discouraged as others beat him into the water, and someone else walked away, whole? Over and over.
While Jesus and his family escaped to Egypt, and many families wept for their murdered children, did the man haggle for food and shelter, inwardly crying, "How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?"
When the boy Jesus sat in the temple in Jerusalem, was the man somewhere nearby, still hoping for God's help? Were family and friends weary of unanswered prayers?
While the Pharisees taught about God's laws in the temple and stood in places of honor, the man lived as an outcast. What lessons was he learning in his suffering?
When Jesus turned water into wine, did the man ask someone to share a few crumbs or a drink of water? How many times had the man pleaded with God, with family members, with friends, with strangers, begging for help for himself and for those around him?
While Jesus taught from hilltops and boats about the kingdom of God, did the man pray for his piece of the promised land to be greater than a mat?
While Jesus taught "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," what broken dreams filled the man's night? Did he hope he could one day say: "But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation."
When Jesus stood before the man, and asked if he wanted to be well, and the man said he had no one to help him into the pool, did he wonder if God heard his spirit groan ... again?
The Spirit stirred the living water, and Jesus said, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk."
This wasn't what the man expected. But he heard the voice, knew himself healed, so he took up his mat and walked. He didn't even know the name of the One who spoke. He only knew God had not forgotten him.
When the religious leaders saw the once paralyzed man, they said it was unlawful for him to carry his mat on the Sabbath. He said the one who had healed him told him to carry it. Really? They were annoyed? Even their disapproval could not quell his joy that he was not forgotten. He was healed!
Later, Jesus found the man in the temple, and he warned him not to sin any longer or something worse may happen to him. Did the man who could walk listen again and find healing for his spirit?
The man told the religious leaders, and probably anyone who would listen, that Jesus was the one who had healed him. Was the man's heart singing "the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me"?
Jesus addressed the questions the religious leaders had about his work on the Sabbath, explaining: “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”
The religious leaders had no quarrel with God working on the Sabbath. But Jesus? He claimed to be equal with God? The religious leaders fumed. Jesus wasn't the Messiah they expected. How could his credentials include breaking their Sabbath customs?
Were some religious leaders blind, some deaf, some lame, others paralyzed by fears, misunderstandings or self-deceptions? Were their hearts empty cisterns, unable to receive the life-giving truth that flowed from Jesus and satisfied other listening hearts?
The religious leaders listened to Jesus and then took up their plots to persecute him.
Jesus continued on toward Golgotha, looking beyond the shame to the joy his Father had prepared for him and for those who believed in him.
As it was for that paralyzed man then, so it is now for the children of God. Jesus is at work, praying for us. And our Father in heaven is still at work; He does not forget his precious children. He hears the yearning of their hearts and steadily prepares a day when they may be whole in body and spirit and say, "I will sing the LORD's praise for he has been good to me." -- Psalms 13:6 (NIV).
How about you?
What is your favorite promise of God? Please share a promise that gives you hope or joy by leaving a comment. It may encourage someone else.