I’m reading the book of Acts at the moment and one part that stuck out to me was the part when Peter healed the man who was sat lame outside of the gates of the temple that is called Beautiful. This man was expecting money but he got something else from God. He got what was really good for him not what he thought was good for him. Sitting outside the temple this man was clearly a fixture there. He had been there for a long while; everyone who visited the temple was aware of him because every day when they came to the temple he was there on the floor asking for alms. That’s why everyone was so surprised to see him up and leaping for joy, praising the Lord after Peter healed him. This story just shows that God doesn’t always give us what we want he gives us what we need. If this lame man got what it was that he wanted he would still be sat on the floor outside the temple the next day but when the Apostle came across him he discerned that his need was not more money it was healing. Sometimes a lot of us are acting as perpetual victims in life. We seek hand outs from society, we seek help, we seek pity. All of these things keep us weak; they keep us reliant on something or someone else. We have a pandemic of ‘disability’ in today’s society. Most of these people are not even disabled. Now I am not trying to sound uncharitable but now we have disability payments available there are thousands, even tens of thousands who apply for disability payments only because they want to get out of having to work through life. They’re not really disabled. They’ve found an excuse. Just like the man at the pool of Bethesda, they blame other as to why they have not succeeded. This man was sat by a healing pool for years and never received his healing. Why? The reason was that deep down he didn’t want his healing. He just wanted the attention that he got from being impotent. He didn’t blame himself for why he hadn’t moved one metre and put himself into the healing pool, he blamed other people for not lifting him up and putting him in there. This is what many are like in society. Our culture is partly to blame because it tells us that everything is a disability. Anxiety is classed as a disability these days not something that you need to just man up and muscle through. People parade their being ‘vulnerable’ around like it is a badge of honour. I’ve noticed this come to prevalence majorly during the COVID 19 pandemic. ‘Vulnerable’ individuals were given extra privileges. I was actually working on the COVID-19 testing lines for a while where people would call up to book their COVID tests and I would get people on the line everyday boasting that they were vulnerable and they should get special assistance. Being like this is just giving up on life. You’re being like the lame man outside the temple of Beautiful, or the impotent man beside the pool of Bethesda.
Having a disability is nothing to be proud of, and frankly the way those I am speaking of behave is an insult to people who are actually severely disabled, like the blind, people who are unable to even talk at all, others who have severe diseases like late-stage Parkinsons, ALS or other neurological diseases that make life on their own almost impossible. Now we have a generation of people who have just opted out of life. Disability payments are available to them so they just take them, refusing to ask God for what they actually need which is healing. God actually knows that deep down they don’t want to be healed otherwise he would likely heal them. That is why Jesus asked the man at Bethesda this exact question. He asked, “Do you want to be healed?” This is the only time he asked that question. Other times he asked “Do you believe I can do this?” but never “Do you want to be healed?” It was only when this man answered that he did want to be healed that he received his healing. Being like this man actually invites in a spirit of death. He’s opted out of life. His disease was a spiritual one, not a physical one, just like many who class themselves as disabled and take disability payments today. What they need is to just RISE UP AND WALK and stop feeling sorry for themselves first of all. If they have Christ they have eternal life, which alone is reason enough to rejoice. And whether or not God decides to heal them or not, they can choose to bear their condition honourably instead of sitting there feeling sorry for themselves and asking alms at the gates of the temple called Beautiful, or lying beside the pool of Bethesda waiting for someone to chuck them in the healing pool.
“Rise up and walk,” says the Lord Jesus. If you act in faith He will make it happen for you. Act like you are already healed. Your disability may even be caused by your own mind. You think you can’t walk so you find yourself unable to. Did you know that there are ‘diseases’ out there today where people find themselves completely unable to walk without any physical cause? The ‘disease’ I am talking about is called Functional Neurological Disorder. Scientists have actually found there are people who are unable to walk, talk, or are even blind with no physical cause. The cause is mental according to the doctors. I say no, this cause is spiritual. They’ve come into agreement with dark powers that now have them bound. If you constantly walk around saying “I’m blind, I’m blind” what do you think is going to happen? These types of evil spirits don’t need many invitations to come in and start afflicting you. The words that you are speaking in faith bring about what you are saying. You’re not only just saying it you believe it too. The Bible says if you ask for anything and you BELIEVE in your heart that it will happen then it shall be so (Mark 11:24). Believing is a central tenet of Christian faith. Through belief we gain eternal life, when we ask in belief we receive what we ask for. Well what if I was to say to you that belief can be used negatively as well and also that if we combine our belief with wrong speech we can incur huge problems. The man at the Pool of Bethesda may have never even had anything physically wrong with him before Jesus came. That was why his wanting to be healed was so crucial to his healing. God is not going to heal someone who doesn’t want to be healed. It’s the same with sufferers of psychosomatic conditions like FND that I mentioned earlier. They don’t want to be healed. They like the attention they get due to their condition; they like the disability payments. Well God is saying rise up and walk today. Forget your anxiety, forget your complex PTSD. Stop putting labels on things and making them into an unassailable ‘god’ in your life. We serve a living God. It’s our God who can do all things. Greater is He that is within me than He that is in the world. Just like you have convinced yourself you are disabled that you can’t talk to others for example, why not convince yourself of the opposite? Rise up and walk and take a step out in faith. Peter was able to walk on water when he believed that he could. You can overcome your anxiety, or lack of communicate skills too. Pray to God that He would give you effective communication skills if this is your problem and then go out act on this faith. Smith Wigglesworth was so big on this and he had countless miracles behind him to show that it worked! That’s how faith healings work. We step out on the faith we have and actually take action, then the healing comes. God wants to see by our action that we truly believe what we profess and then He will act on our behalf. As the faithful Apostle once said ‘faith without works’ is dead. Without showing our faith by our works it becomes unable to affect our lives. That’s why Jesus said to the man at Bethesda, “Rise up and walk.” Peter also said the same to the lame man outside the temple gate that was called Beautiful. Without taking action they would not have been healed. They heard a word from the Holy Spirit and they acted on it. So if you are living your life in a cave because of an infirmity (real or imagined) take that step in faith out into the light. You may find that what your mind is telling you is quite a bit different to what is actually truth. Nearly all of us have self-limiting beliefs that we hold on to, some of them from stem from childhood. “I can’t do this” or “I’m no good at that.” Well if it’s something that God is putting a burden on you to do then rise up and walk! He will supply the grace for your infirmity. If you keep your eyes on Jesus he will not let you stumble. I’ve always suffered with anxiety but recently I’ve decided I won’t let it overcome me in the same way it has in the past. I decided to act in spite of my anxiety, believing in faith that if God calls me to do something then His grace will be sufficient for me.
A few months back I felt led by God to say a few words at a church that I was a member of at the time. Bear in mind public speaking is something that terrifies me. I had no idea what I was going to say because the Spirit had told me not to prepare beforehand, He told me he would give me the words when the time was right. Well I went up to the pulpit in front of this church of people who barely know me and began to speak. There was a microphone and I leaned into it sheepishly and began speaking timidly with no volume at all. I’d be surprised if anyone could even hear what I said in spite of the microphone. Anyway I began speaking then suddenly the Holy Spirit came upon me and I began to speak powerfully on my testimony, and then when I was finished even began preaching against backsliding to this church. I realised when I finished that I wasn’t even leaning into the mic anymore I was standing back upright and booming out my words with power. All the lies that I’d told myself that I wouldn’t be able to communicate well enough to do this were false. The whole church gave me a round of applause when I was finished and I felt so much better to have done it. I gained a victory over the devil that day. And yes, the devil is exactly who is behind this doubt, this fear that tries to strangle us out of doing God’s will. The devil was behind the Bethesda man’s condition too. I’ve been pretty harsh to people with such ‘disabilities’ in this article but the truth is the devil is behind their ‘conditions’. This isn’t an excuse though as we are all called to submit to God and resist the devil. Before I went up to that pulpit time the voice in my head was telling me I was weird, that I would start shaking and run off the stage if I went up there, or that what I was saying would just come out as gibberish and not even be coherent. These are all lies from the pits of hell. We have to cast them down in the name of Jesus Christ, for His word says we are more than conquerors and that His power is made perfect in our weakness. We have to speak the word of God over our lives and believe that over the lies from the devil. I’m not saying I’m perfect at doing this yet. Sometimes I still let these self-limiting beliefs stop me from doing things that God wants me to do but God is working on me. I’m casting down those lies one by one in the name of Jesus, anything that exalts itself against the high knowledge of God. None of the Apostles were prepared before they got filled with the Holy Ghost. Peter denied Jesus three times, running away from his Saviour when the time came but after he was filled with the Holy Ghost he died a noble death, being crucified upside down in a most excruciating fashion. God makes possible what we never dreamed possible. Perhaps one of Peter’s infirmities was that he feared death. Even the thought of protecting His Lord wasn’t enough to overcome his fear of death, but the Holy Spirit was more than enough to help him overcome this infirmity. It’s by the power of God that we overcome our infirmities, most of which are spiritually caused. When God lives in us we have no excuse. We step out in faith believing that God will supply all our needs. We have no excuses. God will either give us our healing or He will give us the grace to act in spite of whatever condition it is we have. We may have to keep going to Him for grace every time we leave the house, but we don’t let it stop us living out our calling. God loves to show up in the area of our weakness. If you physically can’t walk as you have no legs even that can’t limit you from serving God. He can make sure you get access to the best prosthetic leg around. God loves showing off. He would do something like make someone who can’t even talk become a world famous public speaker, all by his grace, or make someone who is dyslexic and failed every English class write a bestselling book. This is what God is like. He doesn’t respect man’s strengths and he certainly doesn’t respect man’s weaknesses. They are like stubble before the flame when the Father is in town. They are about as capable of getting in the way of God using you as a spider’s web would be of stopping a falling rock. Step out in faith brother, sister. Rise up and walk. God may not take your weakness away; but it certainly won’t stop Him using you in spite of it. Never give up on life. Never let this disability real or imagined stop you from doing what you know God has called you to do. The devil would love it if you gave up on doing God’s will on earth. He’s terrified of what some of us are going to do for the Kingdom that’s why he fights us so hard in our minds to make us think we aren’t capable of it. Well he’s right. We aren’t capable of it, but we serve a God who is more than capable to supply all of our weaknesses. In the name of Jesus Christ amen.