Sometimes upon waking, i find myself inexplicably sad. In my experience sadness without any perceived cause is likely either chemical or psychosomatic, and thus should be regarded as neither genuine nor noteworthy. My mind recognizes this, but it and my heart often speak a very different language, and translators are hard to come by. I’m sure the medical industry has a name for this phenomenon (and big pharm a drug), but i dare not ask them lest they lend credence to my ills.

Throughout the years i have used many coping mechanisms when this occurs, but most recently i have been attempting to find answers in the Word. My method is thus: since my remembrance of the Scriptures is minimal at best (perhaps i am almost competent enough to defeat an eight-year-old at a Bible drill), i open the Word to an arbitrary place and begin reading. Here is what i imagine i will see:

Son, you are sad because {insert secret explanation of present predicament}. That reason is invalid because {divine mind-blowing revelation}. Knock it off. Christ has your back and has everything under control.      – Meaning of Everything 3 : 16

Surprisingly, this strategy does not frequently produce the results i am looking for. But it did today. Just a few verses into the chapter which i had selected at random, i was pelted with this facebrick:

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.   – John 5 : 39 – 40

Just before saying these things to the Pharisees, Christ had healed a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. The man had been sitting near a pool which supposedly had healing powers, and for thirty-eight years he had been waiting for someone to help him into the water that he might be cleansed.

i was looking in the wrong place.

For the first time, i see how i have used the Word as a spiritual band-aid all my life. And though i do not doubt its power, it seems fairly obvious that Christ is calling me to more than just looking for a few encouraging lines of text when i feel down. i don’t need to be searching for comfort. Comfort Himself has already searched for me, and has found me. it is to Him that i must run, and Him alone.


i praise Him for the mercy that is weakness. Were it not for wretched depression, i would have never realized my need for Him in the first place. There can be something holy in that nameless sorrow, so long as it remains in its proper place before Him.

Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

James 4 : 9-10, 8a

6 thoughts on “Bethesda

  1. Often Protestants mistake an encounter with scripture for an encounter with the Person of God. You are very perceptive to see that there is a difference.


    • Though you are right in thinking man has the capacity to make this mistake, I am not certain that this phenomenon is particular to one’s denomination. I am rather of the opinion that every man has an inner legalism sourced in sin, resulting from his desire to be his own master. I do not see why this would be a uniquely Protestant condition. Furthermore, while I appreciate the compliment about my perception, I cannot claim it as my own. I feel that it was my eyes being opened by Christ, and so cannot take credit. Other than that, I agree with everything you said. 😉


      • Without trying to be combative, I will try to explain what I meant. It’s a generalization of course. What I mean is that Protestants, who (mostly) believe in the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, seem to be susceptible to a sort of Biblicism that makes a de facto god out of the written word of God. It’s important to remember that God is greater even than the Scriptures which the Church has preserved for us as his word. In my experience, that leads to using the Bible in misguided ways that I have not experienced to be a problem among Catholics, for example. (This is not to say that Catholics do not have practical spiritual problem tendencies along other lines, but I have not seen it in this area, and so that is why I mentioned Protestants in my statement.)

        On a side note, (though you did not actually say this) the Catholic Church is not a “demonination” in the way that, say, Southern Baptists are. It is a Church, which is very different. I leave it to you whether you are interested in me discussing that any further. I don’t want to use this comment forum as a soapbox to distract from the excellent writing you are doing.


      • I of course did not mean to marginalize Catholicism by referring to it as a mere denomination. Apologies for the terminological oversight. Your comments are much appreciated, and I am glad to be in agreement with you on the whole.


  2. I am so glad you are writing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights with us! I will tell you my Scripture facebrick (it was actually more like a balm to my soul) story sometime, if I have not already.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s