John 5:1-8 recounts the story of Jesus and the man at the Pool of Bethesda. I find this story very instructive in the way we make requests of God.
Usually, when we have a desire, not only do we know that desire, we have also figured out the best way to get it. So, when we ask God for something, we also tell Him how we think that thing should be done.
The man at the Pool of Bethesda had been invalid for 38 years. He knew what he wanted- he wanted to be healed. Furthermore, had an expectation of how that healing would come about. He thought Jesus would carry him into the pool. If you were at that pool that morning, you’d probably have seen his expectation and his eyes light up as Jesus drew near to him. He was probably thinking: “Great! Here’s a man coming my way at last! He looks interested in me. I’m getting into that pool today!” He was probably sizing Jesus up to see if Jesus could lift him up and handle his weight. And so, he was quite quick to tell Jesus just how his problem could be solved.
Jesus asked him a simple question: “Do you want to be made well?“
His answer ought to have been simple too: “Yes, I want to be made well.”
But look at his complicated answer: “Sir, I have no man to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I’m coming, another person steps down before me.”
He had decided that his healing could only come from being in that pool.
Like him, we usually complicate things for ourselves because we think we know how it should be done.
God asks us: “Do you want to be wealthy?” We answer: “If You could just bless this my fashion/agriculture/tech business, then I would be really rich.”
Question: “Do you want to be healed of this pain?” Answer: “If I could just get enough money to fund my trip to India, I would be healed.”
He asks again: “Do you need a car?” We answer: “I want my salary to be increased so that I can save every month to buy a car in the next one year.”
He asks: “Do you need a good job?” We answer: “If only I could afford this professional exam, then, I could get a good job.”
Do you remember the story of Naaman the Syrian Commander in 2 Kings 5: 1-14? When he came before Elisha, he also had an expectation of how his need would be met. Namaan had come to Israel in search of a cure for his leprosy. He was directed to Elisha, the prophet, who sent a messenger to tell him: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
But Naaman went away angry and said: “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot, and cure me of my leprosy.” Naaman sure had it all figured out.
When we want something, the best course of action is to make our specific request to God and be expectant, knowing He has heard us. We can have options of how our answers will come, but we should be aware that we are limited in how we think.
God knows the best way to get our requests into our hands, taking our circumstances and His plans into account. He doesn’t need us to figure out the process for Him. He is God, infinitely wiser and more loving than we could ever comprehend. And unlike us, He knows the end from the beginning.