Without a Wound? [True Ministry]

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The subject of “the pool at Bethesda” alludes to the following excerpt from the Thorton Wilder play, “The Angel that Troubled the Waters.” The play is based on the biblical verses of John 5:1-4, but it changes the end of the parable. I first encountered this excerpt within the book “Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging,” by Brennan Manning.

The play tells of a physician who comes periodically to the pool of Bethesda, hoping to to see the stir and then be the first in the water and healed of his melancholy. The angel appears and troubles the water. Everybody at the pool hopes to be the first in the pool and thereby be healed of his disability.

An angel appears and blocks the physician at the very moment he is ready to step into the pool and be healed.

Angel: “Draw back, physician, this moment is not for you.”angel1

Physician: “Angelic visitor, I pray thee, listen to my prayer.

Angel: “This healing is not for you.”

Physician: “Surely, surely, the angels are wise. Surely, O Prince, you are not deceived by my apparent wholeness. Your eyes can see the nets in which my wings are caught; the sin into which all my endeavors sink half-performed cannot be concealed from you.”

Angel: “I know.”

……………Interlude………………

Physician: “Oh, in such an hour was I born, and doubly fearful to me is the flaw in my heart. Must I drag my shame, Prince and Singer, all my days more bowed than my neighbor?”

Angel: Without your wound where would your power be? It is your very sadness that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In Love’s service only the wounded soldiers can serve. Draw back.”

Later, the person who enters the pool first and was healed rejoices in his good fortune then turns to the physician before leaving and said:

“But come with me first, an hour only, to my home. My son is lost in dark thoughts. I — I do not understand him, and only you have ever lifted his mood.”

“Only an hour… my daughter, since her child has died, sits in the shadow. She will not listen to us but she will listen to you.”

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For me, the play pierces with the ‘bullet-message’ of this wonderful line— “Without your wound where would your power be?“ This is like a slow percolating of Paul’s teaching, mainly that it’s through my weaknesses that I can truly minister to others like Jesus. It’s the Apostle Paul declaring it’s the weak things that work to create something solid and true in us. And I hope in the many lives that this ministry, brokenbelievers.com reaches.

I hope so anyway. Pray for me.

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8 thoughts on “Without a Wound? [True Ministry]

  1. This is a beautiful post! I’ve come to understand it in a different way. I lost my youngest son in 2012 first to a severe undiagnosed mental illness, then to suicide. I had prayed so hard that he would be healed …. or even seek help. It was not to be. And I have walked with pain as my companion since. But Christ is with me and has allowed me to speak with others who have gone through much of the same. I do know from experience that those who have gone through it, have a way of being a comfort that others can’t. I pray for you and your ministry to all the broken…. we are quite a large group! God’s strength and wisdom to you brother, in Jesus name.

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  2. As a broken believer myself, I struggle with schizoaffective disorder. I have found that the very thing that “disables” me is also one of the greatest blessings of my life, because I have learned to rely on God so much more than I may ever have if life had gone otherwise. I understand how His grace is sufficient for me and all the weak and broken who maintain our faith and still follow Him, whether we limp or crawl.

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    • Kevin, thank you for sharing. I wish my son could have seen/met you. And thank you for being an encouragement to others who struggle with “any” of the “disorders” so many have to face. You are so right – “whether we limp or crawl” – does not matter!!!!

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  3. Bryan, I love this post. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it, and it brings tears to my eyes every time (which is actually a good thing). Tomorrow I am meeting with a couple of new friends about my involvement in a local ministry called “Shattering Stigma: Mental Health and the Church.” I’ve been to one of their conferences and will be talking with them about sharing my story at a future conference. I went to Broken Believers this morning to search for this very post so that I could share it with them because I want to read it as part of my talk at the Shattering Stigma conference. Imagine my surprise to find you had reposted it today! Although, truly I’m not surprised because God’s hand was in it, I’m sure. Blessings to you. Linda

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  4. amen amen amen!! we are broken, beloved and powerful in that very brokenness which we once were afraid to tell! God’s great grace leads and heals in ways that we’ll never fully understand until we can see from eternity! Thank you for the great post!

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