1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie–the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” (John 5:1-8 NIV)
38 years is a looong time! When I read the story this morning about the disabled man at the pool of Bethesda I thought about all of those years that he had taken his place at the pool–waiting for a miracle. I bet 38 years prior to his meeting Jesus he was much more enthusiastic, much more expectant that something would change, that he would make his way into the waters, and that he would be healed and regain the use of his legs once again. But 38 years had passed from that day until the day he met Jesus. For 38 years someone had carried him to the pool in the morning. For 38 years someone else had always beaten him into the healing waters. For 38 years he always needed someone to carry him home at the end of the day. For 38 years he had seen no change in his life at all.
I wonder if somewhere along the way, at some point in those 38 years, he lost his expectation, his hope, and decided to not expect anything at all. Oh, he still went to the pool every morning and waited for the waters to be stirred, but I wonder if he thought to himself, “Those healing waters are for someone else.” My situation is never going to change!
Disappointment and discouragement can jade us, throw us into the pits, and rob us of the hope of a brighter day, of a new beginning. Prolonged discouragement can suck the life right out of us and leaving us a shell of who we once were and what we’d ever hoped to become.
After 38 years the man’s life was changed in a moment. I will guarantee you that he never expected it. He didn’t wake up that morning and say, “Today is the day!!” He was totally caught off guard. I pray that today someone who feels trapped in the pits, someone who is doubting that change will ever come, will hold on for another day. Just hold on for today, never give up hope that He will bring about the change in His time, and trust that He is working even when you see no evidence of His work. You are not forgotten. The Lord knows what He is doing in your life. Trust Him.