Monday, June 6, 2011

"Do You Want to Get Well?"

In January, the crud came to my house.

My dear husband was coughing like a seal, taking antibiotics, using an inhaler, and chasing it all with a capful of Walgreen’s Nyquil-like product every six hours. Cherry flavored. It seems Proctor & Gamble ceased manufacturing Nyquil D–the original formula with pseudoephedrine in it.

A few days later, my dear daughter started coughing. Just a little. She spent the next day lying on the couch, coughing a bit more often. Her cough changed from “ahem, ahem” to the seal-like bark-cough that reminded me of when she had croup.

Here’s what I find fascinating: I mentioned to Michael that we might need to take her to the doctor if her cough worsened. (His cough needed antibiotics and inhalers.) Apparently, our girl heard my comment, decided she didn’t want to go to the doctor, and spent the rest of the evening commenting on her coughs.

“Oh. Something just went down the wrong way in my throat.”

“Wow. I really swallowed weird that time.”

“It happened again–it went down the wrong pipe.”

What “it” was was debatable.

Every time she coughed, she made a pacifying statement–to herself or to me, I’m not sure which.

I am sure that she didn’t want to go to the doctor. Even though a visit would be simple, most likely non-invasive, and would provide the medicine she needed to feel better, she would rather cough than see the doctor.

Why do we do that? Why do we fear the very actions that will make us well? Why do we run as fast as we can in the opposite direction of health?

Maybe because we don’t want it to be hard. We don’t want it to hurt. We don’t want our healing to be messy.

Jesus encountered this same attitude at the Bethesda Pool near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem. John records it in chapter 5 of his gospel account:

2Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3Here a great number of disabled people used to lie–the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6When 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.”

8Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
It seems so simple: to be healed, just get up and walk. It’s almost as if the lame man would rather stay by the pool among the sick and disabled than actually walk in health. Jesus’ question to this man has reverberated in our lives over the past several months.

Do we want to get well?

Yes. I do. Jesus, show me what to do to walk well.

Cami’s statement of hope at the end of that cough-filled January evening: “Maybe I won’t wake up feeling so nasty tomorrow.” Which was her first admission of how badly she felt that day.

I’m so glad God’s mercies are new every morning!

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