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?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. (John 5:1-9)
There was that man at the pool who had no faith, no even faith like a grain of mustard. He stood beside the pool everyday with no faith that one day he would be the first to get in and be healed. When Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed, he did not even say yes. In his heart were resentment, bitterness and something that only Jesus could see: despair.
In the Gospels Jesus often healed people because of their faith. Their faith made them well (Matthew 9:22; Mark 10:52; Luke 7:50; 8:48; 18:42). But Jesus looked beyond this man’s inability to believe. He looked at the despair that brought him at the pool despite everything. Indeed despite everything he had hope. He had hope that maybe one day things would be different. He had no assurance of what he hoped for (Hebrews 11:1) but he dreamed of that day. And one day Jesus stepped in and made everything different.
Jesus didn’t ask him to believe. He didn’t even pay attention at his answer. He just healed him because he needed to be healed. Jesus knew that by his own, he would never be able to make it. Jesus saw his despair and his hope and helped him.
When everything seems too impossible, when it seems like we spend our days contemplating others’ successes while we are failing again and again, when we don’t know how to get into the water at time to be healed, there is still hope. We just have to show up, to be there where we can find healing and to wait: to wait for Jesus’ compassionate eyes to see our despair; to wait for Him to come to us and to heal us. Sometimes waiting on God is more than faith. When we wait for Him to pass by and touch us, we are saying:” I am just a broken human in need of a merciful savior to help me even when I don’t know how to ask for help and even less to receive it. I don’t have faith, but I hope in your unfailing love.” And as God delight in those who hope in his love, we can be sure that He would come and take care of us.
” His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.” (Psalm 147:10-11)