In John 5, we find the story of one man in a very desperate situation. Not only was he unable to help himself, but he also was without anyone to assist him in any way. One day, Jesus showed up and changed his life forever.
This man was among a large number of sick or disabled people who would lie next to a pool called Bethesda in Jerusalem. There was a story circulating that an angel would periodically come and stir up the waters, and whoever got into the water first would be healed. It's interesting to note that the Bible says, "Jesus saw him lying there..." (verse 6). Remember, there were a lot of people crowded around this water, but Jesus saw him lying there. Not only did Jesus see this man, but He also knew that he had been in that condition a long time (verse 6).
Now, consider the question Jesus asked him: "Do you want to be made well?" (verse 6). Doesn't this seem like a strange question to ask someone who, for all practical purposes, has dedicated his life to being healed? The answer may not be as obvious as you think. Some people don't want change in their lives. They feel comfortable right where they are. Jesus essentially was asking this man, "Do you want to change your life? Are you content with the state you're in right now? Do you really want to change?"
The man responded, "Sir, I have no man..." (verse 7). In other words, "I do want to change my situation, but no one will help me." Jesus then tells this man to do three things that will get him out of this condition.
First, Jesus asks him to do the impossible. He asks this man to do what he has not been able to do for 38 years: "Rise, take up your bed and walk." (verse 8). This was impossible — apart from God, that is. But the calling of God is the enabling of God. Maybe you have tried to bring about personal transformation in your life and nothing has worked. God can do what you have been unable to do for yourself. But you must be willing to take a step of faith.
Second, Jesus asks him to remove all possibility of a relapse. He commands the man to take up his bed and walk. He doesn't tell him to leave his bed there, try walking for awhile, and if it doesn't work out, then go back to his bed again. The implication was, "You are not coming back here anymore. This life is over. I have transformed you." If you want to follow Jesus Christ, then you cannot make any provision for a relapse.
Third, Jesus expected continued success. Jesus didn't tell this man to take a step or two. Instead, He told him to walk. "Don't expect to be carried," He was saying. "Get up on your feet and walk." Why is this important? Because there are people who will say, "I tried following Christ, but it didn't work for me. I guess I am just not the religious type."
My question to that person would be, "Did you follow through with your commitment?" Christianity is not something you try on for size. It works for everyone. If changes did not take place in your life, then it is because you did not do your part.
Do you want to see a transformation in your life? Maybe you have tried to overcome a particular problem or a habit and have failed. But this isn't about you trying now. This is about God giving you the strength to do it. Jesus said, "With God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26 NKJV). The same Jesus who reached out and touched this man will touch you as well. The same Jesus who claimed to be equal with God, who died on the cross for the sins of the world and rose again from the dead, is alive and still changing lives. He is ready to change yours.
Out of their long and painful journey has come a really helpful survival guide, so to speak. It’s a book called Suffer Strong: How to Survive Anything by Redefining Everything. It’s not just an inspiring story of triumph through trials but a how-to book for accepting God’s plan and recognizing His providence even when it feels like your world is shattered.