“When 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?’” John 5:6 (NIV)
I walked into my appointment with my counselor, Jim, wishing I’d canceled. I just didn’t feel up to tackling the topic of forgiveness that day.
So much felt unsettled in my life. Not only were my husband Art and I separated, but there were also layers of complicated realities that prevented us from being able to sit down and process the fallout after his betrayal. I was devastated. Shattered. And so caught off guard that this nightmare was my real life. I couldn’t even open my mouth without a flood of emotion rushing out.
As I sat in Jim’s office, I felt utterly unmotivated to talk and overly motivated to cry.
“Lysa, do you have the desire to heal from this?”
I nodded my head yes. I did want to heal. From the marital devastation. From the shock of all the unpredictable ways people had reacted to what happened.
But how could I possibly start healing when there was no resolution or restitution or reconciliation with Art or others who had hurt me?
I thought those who did wrong things would realize they were wrong. And then surely they would say they were sorry and seek to make things right between us. Then, I would consider forgiveness. And then I could possibly heal.
As Jim kept talking, I started to realize I might never feel like things were fair. Even if the people who hurt me suddenly became repentant and owned all they’d done, that wouldn’t undo what happened. That wouldn’t instantly heal me or make any of this feel right.
And based on their reactions so far, they weren’t going to apologize any time soon.
Therefore, I had to separate my healing from their choices. My ability to heal cannot depend on anyone’s choices but my own.
It reminded me of something I learned during a trip to the Holy Land when my guide taught about the only two healing miracles recorded in the book of John that Jesus performed in Jerusalem. Only two!
The first was a healing at the pool of Bethesda.
In John 5, we read about a lame man who thought he needed the cooperation of other people to help him get to the water when the angels stirred it, according to the superstition believed by many. So, when Jesus came and asked him the question we find in our key verse, “Do you want to be healed?” the man’s response was surprising. He gave Jesus an excuse based on the fact that no one would help him into the water.
Isn’t it amazing that the man was so focused on what others needed to do that he almost missed what Jesus could do?
Without one word about the other people, Jesus instructed him to get up, pick up his mat and walk. The Bible then says,
“At once the man was cured …” (John 5:9a, NIV). The healing didn’t involve anyone but the paralyzed man and Jesus.
The other healing miracle is found in John 9 with a blind man. In this story, we find the disciples wanting to know whose actions caused this man’s blindness. Surely someone was at fault. But Jesus blew that assumption apart. He didn’t place blame or shame on anyone. He said this man’s blindness “… happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3, NIV). Jesus then spat onto the ground, mixed up some mud and rubbed it onto the blind man’s eyes, instructing him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. Notice that Jesus didn’t make healing contingent on other people doing or owning anything.
Jesus gave the instruction. The blind man obeyed. Jesus healed. The blind man moved forward. My guide in Jerusalem that day said “one of these miracles showed us a new way to walk, and the other showed us a new way to see.”
I couldn’t grab my journal to record this revelation fast enough. I wrote, “For me to move forward, for me to see beyond this current darkness, is between me and the Lord. I don’t need to wait on others to do anything. I must simply obey what God is asking of me right now. God has given me a new way to walk. And God has given me a new way to see. It’s forgiveness. And it is beautiful.”
Oh, friend, what if we stopped waiting for things to feel right and fair and placed our healing in the hands of Jesus instead?
Our ability to heal cannot depend on others wanting our forgiveness, but only on our willingness to give it.
Our ability to heal also cannot depend on them receiving adequate consequences for their disobedience, but only on our obedience to trust God’s justice whether we ever see it or not. We can trust sin has built-in consequences. We don’t have to see it to know that the other person will eventually have to face what they’ve done. My healing is my choice. And your healing? It’s with the utmost compassion that I say your healing is your choice too.
I know how incredibly hard all of this is. But I’m finding what I learned both in Israel and in my counselor’s office to be true.
We can heal. We can forgive. We can trust God. And none of those beautiful realities can be held hostage by another person.
You deserve to stop suffering because of what other people have done to you, sweet friend. And today’s a good day to let that process start.
Lord, I confess that forgiveness and healing feel incredibly hard to choose sometimes, but I know You will give me the strength to walk through these processes. Thank You for inviting me to see and walk in a new, healed way today. Thank You for making me more like You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
Psalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (NIV)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND
Have you ever found yourself stuck in a place of believing your ability to heal is dependent on other people and their choices? What kind of hope did you find in today’s devotion? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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What We Believe
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