Fr. Mike reflects on why God often takes his time when working in our lives. Sometimes God has to go back to the foundation of a problem to answer our prayers. This takes time, but every moment is worth it because it’s time spent with him.
One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?” John 5:5–6
Only those who have been crippled for many years could understand what this man endured in life. He was crippled and unable to walk for thirty-eight years. The pool he was laying next to was believed to have the power of healing. Therefore, many who were sick and crippled would sit by the pool and try to be the first to enter it when the waters were stirred up. From time to time, that person was said to have received a healing.
Jesus sees this man and clearly perceives his desire for healing after so many years. Most likely, his desire for healing was the dominant desire in his life. Without the ability to walk, he could not work and provide for himself. He would have had to rely upon begging and the generosity of others. Thinking about this man, his sufferings and his ongoing attempts for healing from this pool should move any heart to compassion. And since Jesus’ heart was one that was full of compassion, He was moved to offer this man not only the healing he so deeply desired but so much more.
One virtue in the heart of this man that would have especially moved Jesus to compassion is the virtue of patient endurance. This virtue is an ability to have hope in the midst of some ongoing and lengthy trial. It is also referred to as “longsuffering” or “longanimity.” Usually, when one faces a difficulty, the immediate reaction is to look for a way out. As time moves on and that difficulty is not removed, it’s easy to fall into discouragement and even despair. Patient endurance is the cure for this temptation. When one can patiently endure anything and everything they suffer in life, there is a spiritual strength within them that benefits them in numerous ways. Other little challenges are more easily endured. Hope is born within them to a powerful degree. Even joy comes with this virtue despite the ongoing struggle.
When Jesus saw this virtue alive in this man, He was moved to reach out and heal him. And the primary reason Jesus healed this man was not just to help him physically but so that the man would come to believe in Jesus and follow Him.
My Lord of all hope, You endured so much in life and persevered through it all in perfect obedience to the will of the Father. Give me strength in the midst of the trials of life so that I can grow strong in the hope and the joy that comes with that strength. May I turn away from sin and turn to You in complete trust. Jesus, I trust in You.
Reflect, today, upon this beautiful virtue of patient endurance. The trials of life should ideally be seen not in a negative way but as an invitation to patient endurance. Ponder the way you endure your own trials. Is it with deep and ongoing patience, hope and joy? Or is it with anger, bitterness and despair. Pray for the gift of this virtue and seek to imitate this crippled man.