Jesus once asked a man he was about to heal, “Do you want to be well?” (John 5:1-18). Jesus knew the man had been ill for thirty-eight years, and so the question appears simple and rhetorical. I was inspired to think about this question for myself after listening to a video by a Catholic priest on the subject. The answer that quickly came to my mind is, “Yes, of course I want to be well!” But when I further reflected on this story and the context of Jesus’ conversation with the man, there was so much depth to this question:
- Do I have a great desire for peace and sanctification?
- Do I actively choose to seek God and receive His graces?
- Am I willing to be transformed by His love and mercy?
“Do I want to be well?” is an important question to continuously ask ourselves in our spiritual lives. God aches to make us well. He has a perfect will designed for each and every one of our lives. To desire to be well spiritually, we have to consistently show up and cultivate our relationship with God. Growth in our relationship requires prayer. Prayer allows us to discern God’s purpose for our lives.
When I’m filled with anxiety, I tend to want to distract my mind. I procrastinate and avoid quiet time with God. Fear holds me back from spending time in prayer. Fear of encountering God one-on-one. Fear of vulnerability. Fear of acknowledging my anxiety and brokenness. What helps me confront my fear is realizing that it’s God’s great desire to heal His people.
St. Teresa of Calcutta beautifully expressed this by noting that Jesus is constantly waiting at the door of our hearts. He never leaves. He never gives up. She writes of Jesus, “No matter how far you have strayed without a destination, no matter how often you have forgotten Me, no matter how many crosses you bear in this life; I want you to always remember, one thing that will never change. I thirst for you – just you, as you are.” Jesus chooses us amidst all of our weaknesses, amidst all of our sinfulness. He gives us the gift of free will to choose His love and mercy.
Into the Silence
For a while, silence was an unfamiliar and uncomfortable feeling. But it is in silence that we are able to enter into the presence of God. Prayer without distraction from our busy lives requires self-discipline. I find it necessary to carve out a specific time of the day for prayer. I find a quiet space and turn my phone off. I remind myself that God delights in my simplest efforts of prayer. Realistically, I do not need to stress out about prayer as much as I do. If I show up and give God time, He will provide the rest. It’s a voice of love that will speak into our hearts. Elijah heard God not on the mountain in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire. Instead he heard God in a little whispering voice, a Still Small Voice, within him.
When our relationship with God strengthens, we become more aware of the ways he reveals himself. By listening to the divine voice, we can discern our unique vocation. Through discernment, we grow closer to spiritual wellness. By giving completely of ourselves, he will meet us where we are at and fill us up with his graces. By being receptive, one small prayer at a time, our lives can be transformed and renewed. If we are graced with the desire “to be well,” we must readily respond to the invitation with perseverance and patience in prayer.