There’s a familiar expression that many of us have said to our children, or thought it, or maybe some authority figure said it to you. You’re at least familiar with it. It goes like this:
You’ve made your bed and now you’ve got to lie in it.
This is, of course, a way of saying that you got what you deserved and now you have to deal with it. Don’t whine, you did this to yourself.
There is a sense in which this is true. When we make bad decisions, do wrong things, consequences will follow. I’ve heard it said that you can pick your sin, but you can’t pick the consequences. I believe that is absolutely true and my children will hear me say so.
There are always consequences to sin, to breaking the law, to defying those in authority.
But, how long does one have to pay? When you’ve made your bed, how long do you have to lie in it?
Look at this story from John, Chapter 5:
Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed.
One man was there who had been an invalid for 38 years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 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 going another steps down before me.”
Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked….Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”
Judging by the fact that Jesus told the man to go and sin no more, so that something worse would not happen to him, he was probably invalid for 38 years because of something he had done. He was lying on a bed of his own making.
Even so, Jesus approached him and offered to heal him. He didn’t have to lie in his bed any longer, if he didn’t want to, both literally and figuratively.
One of the things we can’t ignore about Jesus’ healing ministry is that when a person was healed it wasn’t only their bodies that were affected. Sickness was so stigmatized in that day, that shame was heaped upon anyone with an infirmity.
They were considered unclean, or sinful (and sometimes they were), and were outcasts. Some weren’t allowed to enter the city, some were required to yell, “Unclean! Unclean!” as they walked through the streets, lest someone accidentally touch them.
They were untouchable and therefore, they lived without human touch and in shame.
When Jesus touched the leper and healed him, I imagine his soul was healed, as well. Or, at least set on the road toward healing. The shame of his condition was lifted.
Shame-removal is implicit to Jesus’ healing ministry, as I see it.
Many of us are also living in shame over things we have done. Maybe we’re living with the consequences of sin, bad decisions, or even those of others. We might not have a disease, but there are many ways our lives can be affected by sin.
There have been situations in my life which left me in ongoing emotional pain, but that were caused, at least in part, by me. I began to see that I didn’t feel I could really ask for help or healing from God in those places because, essentially, it was my own fault.
It was just going to be my lot. Neither my pain nor the situation could be changed.
We are lying in the beds we have made and we feel we deserve it. But is that the right way to see it?
I believe that even when we have to suffer consequences for what we’ve done, when we have to go undergo discipline, God is still interested in the condition of our hearts.
I believe he cares for our pain, even when it’s our own fault. I believe He is interested in lifting shame from our hearts and minds.
Guilt is only any good so far as it steers us toward redemption. Beyond that, it’s a weight we cannot bear to carry. Shame is what happens when we don’t receive redemption and take on our sin and mistakes (or those that happen to us) as part of our identity.
Are you a liar or are a person who told a lie? Are you a failure or did you fail? Are you worthless or did someone reject you? Are you stupid or did you make a wrong choice?
I believe He wants to restore us, on the inside, no matter what is happening externally.
To the man sitting by the pool at Bethesda, he asked,
Do you want to be well?
Perhaps He might say to us,
How long do you want to lie in that bed you have made?
He is able to restore our hearts and lives as we allow Him the freedom to do so. It’s always a matter of humility and surrender.
The paralyzed man lay there for 38 YEARS.
How long will you lie in the bed you’ve made?
It’s a simple question:
Do you want to be well?
He still heals.