Something of a disconsolate mood has befallen me recently. Jeremiah’s experience with despondency has been a refuge for me. Jeremiah (amidst much dismay) says, “Your Words were found, and I ate them, and Your Words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by Your name, O LORD, God of hosts.” Jeremiah – like the 38 yr invalid man consigned to a ‘life’ by the Sheep Gate (“Bethesda”) – sat alone much of his life. The thralls of despondency must have been weighty upon him. The question Jesus asks the invalid in John 5 must have been like a beam of light to a person trapped in a cave, “Do you want to be healed?” What do I want? What do the other people around me want? This is a constant, and primary, question – for it has been designed and installed to have an integral impact on our everyday experience. There is something dignifying and inescapably hope-lifting in this basic but profound question.

It is an abrupt transition when – immediately after telling us that the 38 yr invalid was instantly healed – John focuses our attention on the fact that a certain group of people not only refused to be enraptured by this stunning act of mercy, but chose to be disgruntled and principally offended by the kindness of Christ. This – it seems – is God’s emphatic way of getting our primary attention off the miracle and onto Jesus (of Whom you can have only one of two opinions …you’ll either experience Jesus as mesmerizing OR miserable). The uptight (religiously rigid) despise Jesus, and seek His debilitation and destruction. Those who are spiritually hungry and receptive welcome the personal presence of Christ (as King and intimate Shepherd) …far more substantive and satisfying than the miracles and gifts He brings, is the simple and infinitely profound presence of Jesus Himself. While it seems the 38 yr invalid was initially unaware of Who Jesus was (being for a time absorbed in the fact that he now – after all those years – had the ability to walk!), he was not permitted to persist in his ignorance of the more primary gift – which is the very Person Jesus Christ! Jesus found the former invalid, and bestows upon the man His lavish and authoritative Lordship. So now the question becomes, do I want THIS!? (this awesome authority of Jesus). Do I hunger and thirst for this in my life and the world around me? Do I find myself painfully pleading for more of Christ’s personal, and commanding, presence in my life? Do I honestly, and desperately, desire for His Kingdom to come, and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven? Or do I flail in the slough of concern re: circumstances, and exert futile efforts and attempts to manipulate, and disagree with, God?


Come, Ye Disconsolate [by Thomas Moore]

1. Come, ye disconsolate,
where’er ye languish,
Come to the mercy seat,
fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts,
here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrows
that heav’n cannot heal.

2. Joy of the comfortless,
light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent,
fadeless and pure!
Here speaks the Comforter,
in mercy saying,
“Earth has no sorrows
that heav’n cannot cure.”

3. Here see the Bread of Life,
see waters flowing
Forth from the throne of God,
pure from above.
Come to the feast prepared;
come, ever knowing
Earth has no sorrows
but heav’n can remove.