Waking up in Alaska is difficult— at 8 am, the sun is still nowhere in site. Though I’m normally an early-morning person (way earlier than 8am), I have to put extra effort into getting up and getting moving, even though it seems that the world around me is still asleep. I know the sun will come, but it’s hard to function—when it’s still dark outside.
This isn’t just a weather phenomenon. This is something we deal with in all of our lives. This happens when we lose our job. This is when a loved one dies. This is when someone we thought we’d spend forever with leaves us. This is when the future is unclear. This is when our closest friends have hurt us. This is when money is low. This is when the cravings for past addictions come back. This is when we are in that place where we know we’re supposed to get up, but the sun hasn’t risen yet. We all know—it’s hard to function when it’s still dark.
In the book of John, we read of a story of a man who also lived in life’s darkness. For 38 years he was what different versions call sick, disabled, lame, or invalid—we’re not sure if he was crippled, had cancer, was depressed, or what—but either way, he lived days without the sun coming up, and spent 38 years drowning in discouragement. Maybe it helps that we don’t know exactly what was wrong with him—truth be told, this man could have been any of us. When Jesus approached him He asked the man, “Do you want to be well?”
This story found in John 5 continues as the man has many excuses for why he hasn’t been healed. He says that he’s tried many times. He says that others have gotten in the way. He says there’s been a lack of people to help him. But Jesus didn’t ask Him, “What are your roadblocks?” He asked, him “Do you want to be well?” Jesus then commands him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” The man was healed, and he walked.
Do we want to be well?
Or are we so comfortable being sick, sleeping in darkness, that we almost prefer it?
We've memorized our excuses so well, putting the blame on others, circumstances, and past failures-- are we like the man from John 5? Just telling Jesus our roadblocks?
Jesus gives us a reason to rise. He gives us a reason to keep going. If we want to be well, if we want to be healed, if we want to be rid of laziness and apathy, if we want to have a life that we are proud of—we need to wake up-- even if it’s dark, get up-- even if no one helps us, and keep going-- even if the world seems against us. Why? Because there is healing. There is joy. There are things more important than our comfort. A new life is available. But it can’t be attained while sitting. It’s worth the extra effort to be awake. It’s worth the pain of standing up to be alive.