Friday Reflection from Good Shepherd’s Pastoral Intern Wasihun Gutema
I was sitting in one of the University of Maryland Cafeterias during my usual break time on August 13, 2015 and I heard a young girl whispering to another young girl that she is not going to give up. I was not quite sure what their point of discussion was but I repeatedly heard a young girl speaking to her friend that she is not going to give up. Within a brief conversation they had, I heard “I am not going to give up,” five times. As the two young girls adjourned their conversation and left the area, I started to think what not to give up is meant about. As I continued to think a Bible verse came to my mind; John 5:7 …While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.
While I was digesting John 5: 7 my mind cliqued me many a time that “Winner is just a loser who tried one more time.” This notion goes perfectly with a man mentioned in John 5:7 not as a loser but as a perfect winner by trying more than one and surely 13,870 times in 38 years if he tried once each day.
In this section (John 5:7) of the scripture one can see how an old man who was lame for 38 years has been struggling for nearly four decades. This man was not born lame; he became lame after he was born, possibly when he was a teenager. We have a clue of how he became lame and surmise from v. 14 that he committed sin and that sin did result in him becoming lame. Mind you, that does not mean we get sick or exposed to physical infirmities because of sin(s) that we commit. We are humans but not divine thus fragile and not immune to diseases.
This man has been lame for almost four decades and could not be able to put himself in to the water of Bethesda. Unlike failures, he did not give up. The water was troubled by the angel of the Lord but we do not have any clue of how much it was troubled, how long or in what interval but we are sure that it was troubled and anyone who gets into the water 1st would be cured.
The man has been trying to be the 1st for the last 38 years of his life but all his trials became futile but the futility of his trials did not make him hopeless. He persistently fought the fight of not giving up. Yet he did not become 1st in all these years. For this man, to be first might come at any time in his life time and he continued. He was not defeated by years of failures that he encountered. To fail does not mean to give up. He failed but he did not stop.
Many of us may have failed in many ways. We may have failed in Christianity, maybe we failed financially, maybe we failed in our marriage, maybe we failed health wise but did we give up? I encourage you not to give up even if you failed for years and in many ways. Mind you, Jesus did not call those who are immune to failures but he called people who do not stop. Christ called People who rub off their dusts and start to walk the walk. Did you fail? Do not give up, for there is light at the end of the tunnel as also for this man in John 5 that failed for decades but did not stop.
This man in John 5 recognized that failure is not defeat. To be defeated is to stop but not to fail. To be defeated is not to try. As noted above to be defeated is to even try one more time and stop. Not to give up is not trying one more time but to continue to the end until ultimate victory comes even if that victory is not in the way we think. Let us be assured that winners do not quit and quitters do not win. The only reason for the man here in John 5 to be a winner was that he did not quit. He had a unique faith which attested to him that people of faith will fail but do not quit. That was what gave him endurance until he finally wins the race he was running for 38 years. Also, the man recognized that failure many times and in many ways will open a different door of success. This man failed in a way he was fighting but a new way gave him success. You failed your own ways, try a new one….the man said I do not have a man (I do not think “Man” is a reference to masculine or feminine here) which truly tells us that he needs a man more than a man whom he cannot find among the men of this world. Yet he got Christ the man that took him out of his years of dusts. We all need more of Jesus, so that he takes us out of our dusts. He will rub them off from us and let us walk the walk that we failed in victory.
Finally, let us be open that miracles will happen. The world believes that there is nothing impossible. This lame person also believed the same way. He did not give up because deep inside of him there is something that says there is nothing impossible. Despite our struggles and big fights we may fail. When we fail and did not stop, God’s work resumes. It does not mean God was not with us, as we fail and continue the walk. God was and is with us but when the last hour comes God intervenes and does miracles. Things are possible but not everything. There are impossible things and the mystery of God is acting in the impossibilities. When God acts in the impossibilities, God takes away all our dusts. Do not back away because of the many failures you encounter, for the impossibilities will let God’s power to be revealed. Amen!
Pastoral Intern at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church