Updated: Aug 10, 2019
When is enough, enough? When do you stop trying and just accept the situation? I really don’t know. This is an area that I am struggling with right now as I attempt to reconcile my heart with my head and my spirit with my flesh, and it literally feels as if I’m coming apart. Anybody?
Have you ever felt as if you were standing in the middle of the street, yelling and waving your hands, warning of the danger ahead only to be ignored? Or maybe you were heard, but not heeded and you stand back numb watching the unbearable occur all the while knowing that this circumstance was allowed to happen?
Do you rush in to shield and protect despite the indifference? Do you absorb the hurt to prevent the pain? How do you protect someone who doesn’t want protection and when do we say, “when” and quit trying?
I honestly do not know. I would never assume that I had the answer for this. This is not one of those “one size fits all” kind of scenarios. All I know to do is look to Jesus.
I’ve been reading how Christ did ministry and it has shed some light in my current circumstance. I actually told God I wasn’t putting my Bible down until he gave me something to cling to because I was desperate and needed direction. I’m so thankful he is always faithful despite my weakness.
So, as I was searching and seeking these three themes continued to catch my attention as Jesus ministered to others by offering healing and truth.
Jesus had limitations. Now, I do not mean Jesus was limited. He was not. He was God in every way with all power and all might. What I mean is that he never forced anyone to receive what he was offering. He gave those he was ministering to a choice. They could choose the healing or choose to stay in their current circumstance.
John 5:6 is a great example of this. As Jesus approaches the lame man by the pool of Bethesda, he asks a very simple question, “Do you want to be healed?” You can look at it in several different translations and they all basically say the same thing. “Do you want to get well?” (NIV) “Do you wish to get well?” (NASB) “Wilt thou be made whole?” (KJV) Every translation tells the same story. Jesus was willing to heal, but only if the lame man wanted the healing.
Jesus was resoundingly rejected. Now, I know this is not earth shattering to anyone, but I want this to sink in. Jesus was speaking the truth over people’s lives. He was offering the way of escape, the way to life-eternal and a lot of people said, “No, thanks.”
John 5:40 tells us that some of Jesus’ listeners, actually a lot of them, refused to come to him to have life. Just really imagine that. Jesus was speaking the truth and this truth would save them from death, heartache and misery, and they refused to listen and believe.
Jesus moved on. I am literally shaking as I type that sentence. Moving on goes against everything that shapes me. I am not a move-on type of person. But just peruse the Gospels and you will see Jesus do this time and again. He was not neglectful, hateful, bitter or cynical. He was literally love. He offered healing, peace, forgiveness and truth everywhere he went, but he didn’t linger or beg.
This truth, in fact, encompasses the first two themes beautifully. Jesus would lay down the healing and the truth, then leave it up to the individual to claim it - to receive it.
Here is my take-away and like I said this is not the answer for all things. I am certainly not Jesus, but praise God he is our example of what we should imitate as we walk through this world. And, I am still working this out. I probably will for my entire life, but these truths gave me peace and permission to not place a burden on myself I was not meant to carry.
I cannot help people that do not want to be help. I cannot protect those who do not want the protection. Even if I know there is a healing on the other side. Even if I know salvation is so close. Even if it goes against everything that makes me who I am - not everybody wants the healing. This is why Jesus asked the tough question, “Do you want to get well?” All I can do is let them know that I am down at the pool willing and waiting to help them dive in.
I may testify to the truth, and they may refuse that truth. This one is really painful for me in my particular season. I have spoken truth over and over again, sometimes softly, other times quite loudly, but it never breaks through. Why do they not listen? Why do they not believe? I don’t know. I really do not have an answer for that. It took Christ dying and rising again before some would believe him. Thomas even demanded to touch his wounds before he would see the truth. There will be those that refuse to listen to truth. I wish I could tell you a way to make them, but Jesus was performing miracles before their very eyes and they were still blind.
I may not can linger. I may need to move on. I wonder if anyone can sense the war within me as I write that down? It is so very difficult. It is a physical pain radiating from my heart. This one hurts deep, but it is truth nonetheless.
So, when do you call it quits? When do you say, enough is enough? When do you give up?
I don’t think you really ever do. What happens instead is we must change how we face the circumstance. We have our God-given example of how Jesus handled these situations. He did not force a healing, he offered truth despite rejection, and then he moved on.
What this looks like for each of us will be different – remember one size does not fit all – but I’ll share with you what my plans are.
I will recognize that I cannot force a healing. To be healed, one must first desire it and willing to put in the work that requires it. I cannot do the work for them. They must want it bad enough for themselves – not me wanting it bad enough for them. I cannot drag them to the pool, but I will be there waiting for them to come.
I will continue to offer truth despite rejection. You never know when the truth will penetrate so, as I am able, I will share the truth surrounded by love.
I won’t linger. I will make sure that I have spoken truth over them while letting them know I will be present when they reach out for me. Then, I must let go.
But, understand that I am letting go, not leaving, only because it is fruitless to be where you are not wanted. So, for now, I won’t stay but the minute I hear you call for me, I will come. I’ll just be down at the pool waiting.
Actual pool of Bethesda as mentioned in John 5.