December 21

Staying Focused

John 5:2-7 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”

The lame man’s response to the question “Do you want to be made well?” is both off-target and heartrending. Here is the Son of Man, ready to heal, and when Jesus asks him the simplest of question, the man goes off on a combination complaint/description.

Perhaps the saddest aspect of the response is the evident discouragement of a man who had been so sick for so long, and had been so repeatedly disappointed that he’d dug himself into thinking that there was only one way he would ever be healed. He’d placed his faith into a scenario instead of the Savior, so much so that He couldn’t SEE the Savior FOR the scenario. He was this close to his healing, he felt, and just needed…someone to put him in the waters.

The Lord had made a provision here for many people who needed healing. It seemed logical that the undiscriminating healing waters would be this man’s provision. But the method God was using for others didn’t seem to be working for him. He blamed others, and his focus was ON others, and what they weren’t doing. He’d not only lost his focus, he was so unfocused that He didn’t recognize the Healer.

Pain and disappointment can narrow our focus—terribly. We can forget what we really need and want, and we can begin to place our faith in certain hoped-for situations instead of directly in the Lord.

Have you put your focus and placed your faith in something turning out a certain way? Sometimes we roll our eyes at those who place their faith and hard-earned cash in a lottery; we look at the odds of winning, and wonder why they don’t invest their money more wisely. But we often do the same thing as the man at the pool and these gamblers—we slowly shift our hopes and prayers onto a possible chain of events, and we become discouraged or even faithless when the events don’t roll out as expected or hoped.

Have you taken your hopes off the Lord somewhere, and instead invested them into someone else or into things happening in a certain way. God has so many methods of answering our prayers and needs. Can we hear Him asking us, like this man, what we really want? What’s your answer?

Prayer: Lord, help me to stay focused on You and Your promises, not on any plan or chain of events I might have in my mind. Help me to be open and honest with you, and I pray that I will hear what You’re really saying to or asking me.

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