Do you want to be healed?
Jesus asks this question of a lame man sitting by a pool on the Sabbath (John 5:1-17). The pool at Bethesda in Aramaic means “House of Mercy.” The lame and sick loiter around the pool. They anxiously wait for the waters to agitate, poised to be the first in the center of the pool when it spontaneously bubbles. The bubbling pool is known to heal infirmities.
The answer the lame man gives Jesus interestingly evades the question: 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 (Jn. 5:7). I find it interesting that his first response to Jesus’ question isn’t an enthusiastic Yes but a despondent I have no one. He is alone at the pool, waiting for decades for healing, and as he waits he grows bitter and jealous. The physical suffering he endures leads to an internal degradation of his heart. He is blind as well as lame in this moment, blind to the Savior standing right in front of him.
Will the world relieve us of our past?
Our world is broken. Suffering and issues of mental and physical health will always be a part of it until Jesus returns and creates all things new. At the same time, God is actively recreating it right in front of our eyes. He heals the blind and lame, brings peace to agitated souls, and offers the thirsty a drink of living water.
When trauma and suffering lead to bitterness and isolation, we can give the Devil a foothold in our life. We might find ourselves cut off from our art or putting it on the side because pursuing it doesn’t fit with our perception of pastor, leader, or parent. You are a unique creature made in the image of God and embracing your identity both as a child of God and an artist is a threat to the Enemy. Remember: we are engaged in a spiritual battle not against the rulers of this world, but the spiritual forces of evil (Eph. 6:12).
Who will help us be healed?
In her book Journey to Wholeness, Rev. Dr. Carolyn Allen writes that “many times painful situations from our past can hinder us from growing and moving into the things God has for us. We adopt a perspective about the trauma/person/situation that is filtered through our woundedness, leaving us open and vulnerable to ungodly thinking (Allen, 92).” The lame man, as depicted in The Chosen, an online television series, was wounded by a feeling of abandonment and angry about his infirmity, an isolation that resulted in a bitter, wounded heart when Jesus visits him at the pool. In the show, the lame man is depicted being healed, not just from the physical, but emotional and spiritual wounds as well. We see him walking the streets of Jerusalem with his mat under his arm, filled with joy and thankfulness. This is what we long for in the artists we meet: that they find emotional and spiritual healing, learning to fight the spiritual battles that keep them from embracing their unique identity as artists made in the image of God.
Rev. Dr. Allen is teaching at UA21, our first annual conference this October, addressing how we might care for the souls of artists.
Article by Catherine Miller