Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, He said to him, "Do you want to be healed?" (John 5:2-6)
Today we have the story of Jesus healing a man who'd been sick for 38 years. Jesus found him in the crowd of sick people lying near the pool of Bethesda, and He healed him and sent him home.
Whenever I read this story I wonder about all the other people lying there. Why did Jesus choose this man, and not someone else? Why not heal the whole lot of them and send them all home?
I don't know the answer to that question. I do know that God still operates the same way today—healing one, and not another, fixing this situation, and allowing another prayer to go seemingly unanswered.
In a way, it comforts me. At least God is consistent. If He says "No" to me, He also said it to other people even in Bible times, when Jesus physically walked the earth. I don't need to worry that I am doing something wrong or that I don't have enough faith, just because my prayer is not getting the answer I want. God has His reasons, even though He doesn't choose to share them with me—just as Jesus had His reasons, though they are unknown to us, even now.
That doesn't mean I'm going to stop praying or trying to get God to change His "No" to a "Yes." But it does mean that God has said Yes, Yes, a thousand times Yes to us forever, through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus our Savior. If He loved us enough to do that, I can bear his "No" now—because I have His "Yes" forever.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help us to deal with Your "No" and to remember that You have said "Yes" to us for all time at the cross and empty tomb. Amen.
* Have you known a little child who was going through a say-no-to-everything phase? What was that like?
* What are you praying for now that could get either a "Yes" or a "No" from God?
* How do you deal with it when God says "No" to you?
Lenten Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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