Medicine is not an exact science, even if you are a specialist. Some healers are more experienced than others. Some are just better at it than others. Some are more up on the current knowledge and research. But the truth is, a lot of the time medical professionals make their best guess. They try a treatment and if it doesn’t work, they try something else.
I have longed for the day when they (whoever “they” are) would invent a reliable and cost-effective medical tricorder like they used on the original Star Trek (the medical tricorders used on ST:TNG or other spin offs would be just too much to ask.) It would be so fabulous to have someone wave what amounts to a magic wand over your body and know exactly what is wrong and how to treat it. It’s not outside the realm of possibility. Lots of items first seen on Star Trek have been invented in the last 40 years. Many of them were invented by people who watched Star Trek as kids and decided to invent the wonderful gadgets they saw, but so far, no medical tricorder.
That leaves us to get X-rays and blood work and hands-on exams – or worse, to try to tell someone exactly what is wrong. Frustrated parents often tell their children, “Use your words” when pointing and moaning don’t work. Grown-ups also have to be reminded to used their words, and even then it is often hard to describe what something feels like. It’s just not right. We know it’s not right, but it’s hard to say exactly why it’s not right.
Then there are the times we know what is wrong. We know how to explain it or an explanation wasn’t necessary. We seek treatment, but we don’t follow instructions. Or rather than seek treatment, we simply complain about the symptoms.
Today’s reading is John 5: 1-16. Jesus asks the man who cannot walk the one question that probably no one had ever thought to ask him; the one question that most people would never consider asking, “Do you want to be made well?” Do you really?
Do we really? Sometimes in order to be made well we have to follow treatments that are not pleasant in the short run. Sometimes we have to make changes to the way we live for the rest of our lives. Do we really want to be made well, or would we rather go along as best we can for as long as we can – at least until we just can’t stand it any longer?
The man in this story answered the question by giving the reasons he was unable to be made well, and yet, there he was hanging out at the healing pool. Jesus responded by telling him to get up and start living again. And he did. The man picked up his sick-bed and walked off into the horizon to live his own life.
We all have excuses for why we don’t do what we know will make us well, whether that means to exercise more or read more or serve God more. Do we want to be made well? The option is there.