When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had been now a long time in that condition,
he said unto him, “Do you want to be made whole?” John 5:6
“Do you want to be made whole?” At first blush, this seems like a strange question for Jesus to ask a disabled man who sat for decades at a place of healing but never experienced transformation. It’s like asking a starving woman if she wants bread. Of course, she does! The Bible doesn’t tell us if the man was born this way or if his state was the result of some tragic accident because the focal point of the story is the question posed by Jesus:
Do you want to be made whole?
All the power of heaven resided in Jesus Christ—He is God in the flesh. Only Jesus can heal, mend, and restore, but He will only do so with our permission. While the miracle He performed in this man’s life was of the physical nature, He does the same miraculous work in healing our fractured souls.
We walk around a mere shell of who God intends us to be because we refuse to come to the One who can bind up our brokenness. Why? We grow comfortable in our mess. In some shape, form, or fashion we form an identity around our pain, victimhood, or bitterness. This identity settles into the cracks, and we see ourselves through the lenses of our brokenness:
I’m an addict.
I’m not loved.
I’m a victim.
I’m not safe.
All too often, we allow ourselves to be defined by the pain done to us rather than by the God who can heal us. Jesus beckons us to wholeness, but He can’t accomplish His miraculous work in our souls without our permission. Wholeness is a state of being in which our fractured hearts are mended, the empty well inside our soul is filled up with the love of Christ, and we cease looking to people, possessions or power to make us feel complete.
In our brokenness, we grasp for band aids to cover the bleeding. Our band aids can take the shape of co-dependent relationships (friends, romantic partners, or parents) or destructive habits (such as eating disorders, self-harm, control, isolation, or anger.) We try to use people to heal our hurt or act out in ways that are harmful. These band aids are insufficient and leave us feeling more insecure, broken, and hurting than before.
I should know, this was my story. As a little girl, I was deeply wounded by sexual abuse. I don’t enjoy sharing this story. (And I must start by saying my family didn’t know about it and were grieved when they discovered the truth.) Because of this wound, I grew into a young woman filled with toxic bitterness. As a result, the bitter pain in my soul spilled over and lashed out at the ones closest to me … further isolating me from the loving nurture I needed to heal. This isolation only made me feel more unloved and rejected. From that a lie took root in my heart that said, “I am unloved.”
As I grew into a young woman, I made destructive, sinful choices. Relationships with guys became my “band-aid.” I just thought, “If a guy loves me, then I will feel whole.” So my story is one of running to guy after guy hoping that one of them would heal my brokenness.
Fractured. Splintered. Broken. Crushed. My fractured soul manifested itself in deep insecurity, anger, sinful choices, relational drama, unforgiveness, co-dependency and a litany of other symptoms that screamed that inside was one shattered young woman.
Like most hurting people, I learned to function in my brokenness. I used substances to numb the pain. I used people to fill the void. I used busyness to distract me from the real problem. Thankfully, Jesus loves us too much to leave us where we are.
I first trusted Christ in my mid-twenties. The grace of God overwhelmed my soul. Although I was born again, inside me there was a hurting little girl who desperately needed healing. Let me repeat this: You can be born again, Jesus- loving, Spirit-filled, Bible quoting, church serving, and a hand-raising worshipper, yet still be deeply dysfunctional and desperately need Jesus to bind up your wounds!
As I began to grow in my relationship with Christ, He began to reveal the depth of my brokenness. I often felt like a failure, not realizing that the same God who saved me from my sin was the very One who wanted to heal me from my brokenness. Let me confess, I could quote scripture like a champ, but that didn’t mean I was living in the freedom or the abundance it promised.
BECKONED TO WHOLENESS
I’ll never forget the day Jesus beckoned me to wholeness. I was invited to serve on the prayer team for a women’s conference at my home church. What an honor! I was called to pray for women attending the conference and help them experience Jesus’ healing presence. As I grew in my faith, I was handed various leadership roles. As I took on more responsibility, I tried harder to hide my junk. After all, a good church girl shouldn’t struggle with anger, co-dependency and insecurity. (Yeah, right.)
I laugh as I write this at how my spiritual pride blinded me to my desperate need for healing. Because I was in a leadership position, I couldn’t see that I was actually the one in need of ministry. As the main teaching session began, the Holy Spirit of God unleashed. I was in the back of the auditorium, close to my post at the prayer room, when the Lord began to touch some of those deep wounds in my heart.
Like a doctor who presses on the body and asks, “Does this hurt?” … Jesus began to touch the wounded places in my soul. Images of the childhood abuse surfaced and memories of my desperation for love filled my mind.
I came undone. I couldn’t hold the pain inside any longer. The dam broke and a waterfall of tears, decades in reserve, fell. Tears flowed down my face, flooded my collarbone and soaked my shirt. I could not stop the tears. Women sitting around me began to stare. The pastor’s wife handed me a tissue. Then boxes of tissues began to pass from across the conference.
I have no idea what the speaker said that day. All I can tell you is that Jesus, the Great Physician, began to touch places in my soul.
As the session came to a close, the emcee took the stage and said, “We have a prayer room available for anyone who needs prayer.” I kid you not, I looked at my friend and said, “I’m on the prayer team, and I need to go pray for someone.” (Bless my heart.) I walked into the darkened room and looked around. I asked the Lord, “Who do you want me to pray for?” I felt the Lord say, “YOU!”
When He spoke, I fell to my face. I couldn’t stand up. My feet wouldn’t hold me. The pain was too deep. Too raw. And when it surfaced, my knees buckled. There in that prayer room, Jesus asked, “Do you want to be made whole?” Desperate for deliverance, I sobbed out “yes!”
Flat on my face, with sobs pouring out of my soul, I told Jesus of my pain. The abuse. The sin. The anger. The bitterness. I have no idea how long I was on that floor. But what I can tell you is this—Jesus was there.
The Spirit of the Living God poured healing into my broken places. I don’t have the right clinical or theological words to explain what occurred that day, other than to say that the same Jesus who healed the lame man was present to restore a young woman who desperately needed Him.
While this encounter was dramatic; it was merely the beginning of my healing. That experience set me on a path of wholeness that continues to this day. From there I entered Biblical, Christian counseling because my mind desperately needed renewing. (Romans 12:1-2) For decades I operated in lies and in a mindset of victimization, now I needed to align my thinking with God’s truth. Jesus used Biblical counseling to accomplish that work. As I met with counselors who pointed me to God’s Word, they helped me see life-long patterns I’d developed to compensate for my brokenness and gave tools to walk out my freedom. Every day, by the power of the Spirit, I seek to walk in wholeness.
Friends, I write this blog today because I know I’m not the only one who loves Jesus, serves in the church, raises her hands in worship and still has incredible hurt in her soul that desperately needs to be healed. Jesus beckons us to wholeness. Here’s the thing, the choice is ours. Just as Jesus asked the lame man if he wanted to walk, so he asks us if we want to be whole.
I get it. Sometimes the things we’ve experienced seem too painful to face. We’d rather ignore the pain. But, let me ask you a tough-love question: How’s that working for you? Is ignoring the past solving the problem? No. Pain unhealed simply festers. We can’t sweep our abuse, abandonment, rejection, or neglect under the proverbial rug and just pretend it’s not there. This is why Jesus asks us, “Do you want to be made whole?” We must participate in the process. Freedom is not a passive engagement. We must bring our pain, shame, and hurt to the Lord.
I’m eternally grateful that Jesus didn’t leave me stuck. While I’m very much still a work in progress, I can stand before you and testify that Jesus heals! Jesus didn’t just come to solve our sin problem, He came to make us whole!
1. Get involved in your local church. I often tell people that the church was my hospital. The Lord placed women in my life who loved me through my brokenness.
2. Please contact your local church for a referral to a Biblical counselor.
3. The following books are incredible tools the Lord also used to bring healing in my life.