We’re beginning to identify with the Psalmist who wrote, possibly during a long illness:

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror.
My soul also is struck with terror,
while you, O Lord—how long?
(Psalm 6:2-3; see also Psalm 13)

Laid off, furloughed, working from home, trying to home-school your children, hoping the government relief check comes before the rent is due, wondering if you were too close in the market to that guy who sneezed. This is tough. How long, Oh Lord?

One day, Jesus met a man who had been in a bad state for a long time:
Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool,
called in Hebrew Beth-zatha which has five porticoes.
In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed.
One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that
he had been there a long time, he said to him,
“Do you want to be made well?” 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 making my way,
someone else steps down ahead of me.”
Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.”
At once the man was made well,
and he took up his mat and began to walk. (John 5:1-9)

We don’t know anything about this “stirring of the water.” Did it really happen, or was it just a legend that hopeless people held on to? How often was it supposed to happen? Was only one person healed at each “stirring”? Were there any testimonies of healings? And why did Jesus single out this one particular man for attention? Here are some things we do know: the man was severely disabled, and he had no family or friends to help him. Each time one of the poolside invalids said, “I see the water stirring!” he did his best to make it to the pool, but he was always too late. This had gone on for 38 long years, and he had still not given up hope. Maybe that’s what attracted Jesus to him — he kept believing and he kept trying.

This COVID-19 thing has gone on for longer than any of us expected. We hang around the TV pool each day hoping some political leader, medical expert or news commentator will say some magic words that will stir the waters and make it all better. Whoops, missed again!

Turn around. It’s Jesus!

— Pastor George Van Alstine