One of the blessings of maturity, for me, is that I’m able to think through the likely outcomes of events in a way I couldn’t when I was younger. Greater experience and, I hope, wisdom, help me to avoid charging blindly into situations that can be harmful for me or those around me.
However, one of the curses of maturity is that because I’m now able to think through the likely outcomes of events, it becomes easier to just avoid taking risks, challenges, or anything that might cause discomfort.
The man lying in the portico had been sick for thirty-eight years. I imagine he had made all kinds of adjustments and compromises in his life to give him whatever level of stability and comfort he thought he could sustain. I imagine experience, maturity, and wisdom had taught him a way to settle for being a beggar lying in the portico. He had even given up on finding a way to get to the healing waters of the pool.
Jesus asks him, “Do you want to be made well?” The man says that life has taught him it’s hopeless to imagine being well. Jesus responds by telling him to stand up and walk.
In that silent moment of decision between verse 8 and verse 9, the man dares to challenge the lessons life has taught him, to dare disappointment and embarrassment. The man seems to draw strength from the presence of Our Lord, and dares to get up and walk.
The problems of my life are not as dramatic as these (thanks be to God), but I’m learning more and more my need to call on Jesus to give me strength in the little challenges of my life, lest I fall into complacency, inaction, and fear. When I was younger I thought people who did that were silly. Experience is teaching me a little humility.
P.S. While writing this, I can’t stop humming hymn 347:
“Go forth for God; go to the world in peace; be of good courage, armed with heavenly grace”