I sometimes find myself envying people that I consider to be a little closer to gullible than logical. I’ve been blessed with a terribly analytical mind. I question everything. I am very slow to change opinions about anything. (if my mind can be changed at all) And my logical thinking sometimes inches closer to skeptical than purely analytical. It’s not pretty, but it’s just who I am. I like to think that it makes me right more often than I am wrong, but I still wouldn’t mind occasionally just simply believing. It seems that some people have an uncanny ability to trust again and again, where I find myself carefully weighing the consequences and benefits to each decision I make.
When a relationship with a friend fails, I find it harder and harder to embrace a new friend without questioning their motives and intentions. After experiencing a business failure, I have found it extremely difficult to cultivate the confidence to try again. And when “church” has failed to live up to my expectations, I have to be honest and say that it get’s difficult to shout amen sometimes.
Whenever our expectations aren’t met in life, we have the potential to lose a precious and valuable commodity that each of us possesses. That asset is hope. Hope is unique in our lives. Hope is what wakes us up in the morning even prior to having our first gallon of caffeine. Hope is what allows us to look into the eyes of another human being with wonder and openness. Hope is what gives us the courage to take that initial step of faith. It is hope that has the ability to put the positive spin on the newsreel of our lives.
But it is this hope that is slowly eroded by life’s let-downs. When enough has been chipped away, our mountain of optimism becomes an insurmountable dune in a desert of hopelessness. This is different than losing faith. Many people still believe that relationships can still work, that their career can still improve, and that God still can move in their lives, they have just stopped hoping that it will happen.
There is a story in the bible about a pool called Bethesda. We are told that around this pool were a great number of disabled people, blind, lame, and paralyzed. And as they lay around this pool, there were certain times when an Angel of the Lord would come down and trouble the water. Whoever first entered the water after this was made whole.
I can only imaging that this was a place of great hope. For years, people had come and been healed at this pool. You can almost feel the anticipation among the new arrivals as they struggle in the crowd to get a place nearest to the waters edge. Fathers with crippled children waiting anxiously for the slightest ripple in the water. Friends and relatives of everyone waiting to give their loved one the push that they needed to get into the water first.
Bethesda, like life was intended to be a place of hope. It was at Bethesda that Jesus met a man who had been ill for thirty-eight years. It wasn’t just hope for a promotion, or hope for a new friend, it was an everything hope. The hope in Bethesda was his hope to live the life that he saw in the masses of people passing by each day. Bethesda was the vessel that held the only hope he had.
Can you imagine what it was like the first time the water was troubled? He struggled against his disability, and with all of his might, but before he was even near the waters edge the old man with a large family had been quickly thrust into the water. The old man was shouting and looking around wildly. He was seeing light for the first time in his life. As the old man was pulled out of the water by his family, our character tried to pull himself closer to the edge so that perhaps next time he would be the one to land in that place where heaven touched earth and miracles happened.
He waiting for a month this time, and although he made it into the water, it was after ten others. He just hoped that maybe there would be an extra miracle for him so he plunged himself into the water. As he struggled with his broken body trying to catch his breath and still choking from the water, some of the hope in his little vial spilled onto the dry desert sand.
The same scenario played out time after time. Each occurrence drained precious drops of hope until he was entirely hopeless.
Can you relate to him? He was surrounded by people full of hope. He was inches from the very source of hope. He could see and hear the results of that hope all around him, but those inches had become eternities in his life.
Maybe you’ve had experienced the hope and disappointment of failed relationships, failed business, or even failed faith. And even though you still believe that miracles are happening all around you, you’ve lost the hope that they’ll ever happen to you.
Listen to the conversation between Jesus and the man… (John 5:6-8 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.”
Perhaps right now, as you’re reading this, the Spirit of God is whispering in your ear. “Do you wish to get well?” And like that man, your analitical mind is going though all of the reasons why it just isn’t possible. You’re showing him the tarnished old vessel that used to hold your hope. You’re tipping it up for Him to see that your hope has all run out.
Could I ask you to look into His face. He knows how long it’s been since you’ve felt the uplifting nudge of hope. He knows how many times life has let you down, stolen your optimism, and taken your will to try.
Jesus brought the hope back to the man at Bethesda. He didn’t just pour a little more into his vial. He drenched him in hope. He poured hope all over him. In the space of a single sentence, the man was embracing that which he had spent the last 40 years of his life losing hope in.
And perhaps right now, hope Himself is calling your name. Will you answer?