DO you want to be well?”John 5: 6
Jesus asks this powerful question to the man at the pool in Bethesda. This man had come to this pool specifically hoping to receive healing. He cannot get himself, as he is disabled, into the pool. Jesus’ response to this man’s frustration about not being able to get in is to heal him where he is, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!” At once the man was cured. – John 5:8-9
This question, which seems to bring the man’s sincerity into question, is really an invitation to have an active role in his healing. “What are you willing to do?” He seems to ask. Jesus partners with the man in bringing about his healing. He asks the man to step out in faith, by literally standing up and walking. Jesus ignites the faith within him. He gives the man hope that he is going to be healed and then we see the glory of God in his healing.
So many times in our life the Lord poses this question to us.
Do you want to be well?
As I take some time and think about health and wellness, I am often drawn back to this question. Our health is so much more than just about losing weight or feeling great. Jesus poses this question to the man at the watering pool because he is inviting the man to take a role in his health and wellness. He is asking him what he desires.
So often in my life when I was struggling with chronic pain or physical strains, I have to come back to this very question. To really be well is more than just to being motivated. It’s about a conscientious decision to promote health and wellness in our life. To desire our health over basic luxuries of life. To choose prudence over gluttony. Activity over slothfulness. To choose temperance over drunkenness. It is truly looking over the seven deadly sins and rejecting them in all areas of our life.
Oftentimes in our lives we can overcomplicate things. Jesus’ question is simple and His answer is always simple as well. He asks us to deny ourselves and the desires of the flesh and to seek wellness and wholeness. Jesus encourages us to not allow ourselves to be mastered by anything.
All things are lawful for me, but I will not allow myself to be mastered by anything.”1 Corinthians 6:12
The Lord has given us so many great things to enjoy. However, the virtues help us to keep our senses under control and to not allow our senses to take the role of our brain in making decisions. We can enjoy delicious desserts, and glasses of wine with necessary restraint. The Lord wants us to enjoy the bounty and beauty of taste and what’s available to our senses, but our senses should not monopolize. Our senses should not prevail when it comes time to making decisions and living our life.
Do you want to be well?
I think this is a question we can ask ourselves in any situation in our life. It comes back to a starting point, to bring our own failings, the areas we need wholeness and wellness in, to the Lord and to ask Him to fill us with the grace to face those struggles daily.
On a daily basis we can begin to work through the true answer to the question, “Lord, I desire it, but I can’t do it on my own.”
This question has come up a lot for me lately. I have put on a lot of extra weight due to a lack of exercise, years of chronic pain and an unwillingness to adjust my eating habits. While before I wasn’t physically able to do anything, I now have to work through rectifying the damage that years of inactivity and poor eating habits have caused. This mountain seems to be too big to climb some days.
But then, in the quiet of my heart, I hear His words to me: “Do you want to be well?”
Do I wish to breathe easier? DO I wish to be more active with my kids? Do I wish and desire the freedom of taking some of this weight off my lungs and off my heart? When it comes down to it, that is not an easy decision to make because I know that no diet is going to secure that place for me. It’s really about changing my lifestyle. It’s about a daily commitment to choose the better option. To say, “I think I will have this verses that.” To honor my body and give my body what it needs verses what my senses desire. It’s got to be something I strive for like my spiritual life.
The Lord is showing me the necessity of discipline in all areas of my life. I feel that the more I take all these things and place them under this umbrella of discipline and give them the same clout that I give my spiritual life, that I will be more effective in my movement toward wellness. When I align my physical needs to the same umbrella of discipline that my spiritual needs are under, I see, with trust, that the Lord has me.
If I focus too greatly on what it is that I am denying myself, that pleasure becomes something that I fixate on. I focus more on what I am giving up or losing, than on what God is doing with that sacrifice to better me. I have to make a decision, for me it is limiting the amount of sugar and white flour in my diet, in an attempt to feel better and lose weight. Those two represent areas that I have determined to be damaging for my body and overall health. I don’t want to go on Pinterest and try to figure out the best diet, or focus on macros, and calculate the amount of protein in my diet. I don’t need to do all that to see change. I am making these decisions because I wish to be well.
I want to have this freedom that I haven’t been able to have for a few years now. When I can bring those decisions under this area of discipline, and I can bring it to the Lord, I can trust. I know that those things are bad for me. That too much sugar is bad for my body. I know that white flour does not have nutritional value. I know that in my mind those are easy decisions to make when I take them under the light of discipline. Not an easy decision to make when I want a piece of chocolate during the day, or a fluffy white roll. I have the ability to recognize that those things are not bad in and of themselves, but that they can take a hold of me in a way that I cannot master myself. So, I need to take those things and guard how I consume them so I don’t’ allow them to master me and have an effect on my body and my overall health.
I can desire these things. I know the effects that they will produce in my body. But I can desire and put them in a place that is different than my body craving them, and thus dependent on them.
I can take them into the same vein that I take the spiritual things in my life with the trust and faith that God will allow me the same freedom in those areas of my life that He allows me in the areas of sin through repentance.
Do you want to be well?
What is it in your life that you are allowing to master you? Is it your propensity to drink too much? Exercise too much? Which one of the seven sins is trying to fight for your interior freedom?
Do you want to be well? This is a question that the Lord asks of all of us because He desires your restoration, but He needs your participation.