Let’s hope so
It may seem a strange question to ask of a man who has been ill for 38 years. “Do you want to be well again?” And yet perhaps not so strange. Sometimes, the situation in which we find ourselves can be difficult to emerge from. Not just physical illness but all kinds of personal or social circumstances in which we may feel stuck in the mud and just cannot or do not want to break out of. We may have lost the motivation or simply got used to all that life has thrown at us, and have given up hope altogether.
In asking the question of the man, Jesus discovers what he really wants. Is it pity or people’s charity, pennies dropped into a cap from passers by? Does he want or like the recognition and sympathy, the attentiveness that comes from being incapacitated, or the acclaim of courage and bravery when suffering for so long? No, this man, even if he does receive all of that, has needed all of that to survive, simply wants to be well again. This man still has hope.
The fulfilment of his hope comes in Jesus. He doesn’t really know who Jesus is. In fact, he loses sight of him soon after he is healed, and it is only whilst walking in the temple later on in the story, that there is another encounter. “Now you are well again be sure not to sin anymore,” he says to the man. For Jesus, this is a moment of healing, yes, but also a moment of conversion. The man had hope. His hope has been fulfilled. And his life can never be the same again. In whatever situation we find ourselves, we can and do still hope. Hope is not just wishful thinking but a trust in Jesus and his healing grace, an opportunity for conversion, a moment of encounter. Will things get better? Let’s hope so!
Lord God, whatever life throws us at, wherever we are, whenever we feel stuck, keep our hope alive that Christ’s healing grace will lift us up and guide us on. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.