“The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me."”
(John 5:7 ESV)
As we read on about the invalid with whom Jesus spoke in John 5, it seems that he did want to be healed. After all, why else would he be at the pool? However, even though he had this desire, he’d lost hope.
Again, it was believed that whoever made it into the pool first, after the water was stirred, would be healed. And this invalid had lost hope because someone always beat him to the pool.
Imagine trying to win a footrace as an invalid. It’s right up there with a blind man winning a sharpshooting competition or a mute winning a speech competition. No matter your efforts, the deck is always stacked against you. And, having realized this, he was discouraged.
Even though he likely didn’t realize it, he’d lost hope because he was looking to the wrong source. Instead of looking to the Lord, he was looking to this pool. Instead of looking to the Lord, he was depending on his ability to make it first into the pool.
We often get caught in the same mindset. We have a clear need, but we look not to the Lord. Instead of looking to God, we look to our efforts. Instead of trusting in Jesus, we trust in people or superstition.
In order to remain healthy, or to become healthy, we look to our own efforts or to products marketed in this way. We look to a certain diet or exercise program. We look to vitamins or organics.
I’m not suggesting that it’s wrong to eat healthy or to exercise. I try to do just that. And there are definite benefits to these practices. However, we must not allow them to be our focus as we’re seeking help rather than the Lord.
When it comes to physical illness, we look not to the Lord, but to doctors and medications. When it comes to mental illness, we look not to the Lord, but to psychiatrists and counselors. The Lord can, of course, work through people. He can use people, whom he has gifted, to help meet our need. And, again, I’m not suggesting that it’s wrong to make use of them. I regularly make use of doctors myself. Having a chronic illness, I take medication on a daily basis. We must realize, however, that the Lord is the source of our help. We must realize that he's the source of our strength and healing.
Other times, people will depend upon a rabbit’s foot or a horseshoe over the door for good luck. They will look to dreamcatchers to rid themselves of bad dreams. People will rely on sacred relics or on a pilgrimage to a sacred site to gain the blessing needed.
And, just like the invalid, we often lose hope. We lose hope because, no matter what we try, nothing seems to help. Our life doesn’t seem to improve. The need that we possess remains unsatisfied.
Whatever our need, and in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, we must realize the true source of help. As we read in the first two verses of Psalm 121: “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” We must always know and remember that the Lord is the source of our help and it’s to him that we must always look.