ALONE AT A PITY PARTY : By Vincent NNANNA
A crowd of more than 2000 guests honoured a birthday party. That included some generals among other high ranking army and naval officers and some well-known political juggernaughts. That is the way it is when one could be numbered among the cream of the society. In a city of a little more than one and a half million inhabitants, any party that can garner as much as 2000 personalities is rated as a bash. The Scriptures give an account of a certain rich man who made a supper and invited people of his class. When the supper was ready he started receiving apologies and excuses for absence instead. (Luke 14:1620). One need not be counted as rich, but if one is in good rapport with neighbours and the society at large, people will naturally want to identify with you.
That was not the case with the man by the pool at Bethesda near the sheep market in Jerusalem. (John 5:4). When Jesus Christ inquired of him whether he would be made whole, rather than respond directly to a simple inquiry, he would rather start singing his pity party song of what he considered the impediments that stand on his way. He says in effect, "Master, you can see that I am all alone. The people around here do not care about my condition. They are all so self-centred." The second segment of his party song runs like this: "Even the angel whose duty it is to stir the water is not helping matters either. He does not reside here permanently. He comes at special times. And his presence is always very brief." As this man goes forth and back with his complaints, he brings his family history into the picture, and he says, "I have nobody." Having nobody is the point of departure between success and failure in a great number of human endeavours. Seeking employment in some big organisation, getting a raise in work place, obtaining admission into higher institutions, obtaining visa to countries of high economic value, etc; demand having connexions in high places if one must succeed in obtaining some favour. Thus having nobody was a significant factor that contributed to the inability of the impotent man to get out of his condition. It is not unusual for people to ask for complimentary (name cards), of someone they consider important in their life. Some people go to the extent of demanding testimonials which they can attach to their profile to show how closely related they are to some important personalities. This only serves to show what importance people attach to having ‘somebody.’ But the man at the pool had nobody. And that gave him cause to indulge in self-pity.
Pity party celebrants are always alone. They have nobody to party with them. If you ever have a guest at your pity party, your situation will rather deteriorate. The more guests you have, the worse your situation gets. Such guests come not to commiserate with you but to make your illusion seem like a reality. They come to show you sympathy and give you some sense of self-justification. The friends of Job came to sympathise with his situation as Job began to question the wisdom of God. Those sympathisers did not help Job’s situation. (Job Chapters 20 – 31).
But the man by the pool had one distinguished guest who made a difference. As he was having some tête-à-tête with this heavenly guest, there were great expectations that Jesus might probably call down the angel especially for this man’s sake so that some majestic fiat will issue to stay others from entering the pool at that moment. One could see feelings of resentment across the faces of those other patients waiting to take their turns into the pool. To their utter disappointment, this guest had a different agenda. He was not there to add to the man’s sorrows or to cause some reluctant angels to come down to stir the waters. Jesus’ mission is to destroy the belief in unreality.
Amidst all the mixed expectations, Jesus says to the man, "Take up your bed and walk." In so saying, Jesus brought to light the fact that having nobody is not relevant to our salvation or success in life. The Scriptures tell us that one with God is with majority. Jesus also demonstrated that recounting unfriendly attitude of people towards us does not help or improve our situation. He showed that reliance on material objects like diving into the pool is not necessary to receiving healing. He says, "I am the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6). He also promises that whoever believes in Him will not see death.
Rather than dwelling on pity parties, and recounting our woes of how people relate to us and how we do not have any body to help us, we should look unto Christ, (the author and finisher of our faith); as the sole guest at our party. We should look away from matter for the resolution of our problems. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder and discoverer of the Christian Science Movement, in her book Science & Health with key to the Scriptures, writes, "Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts." She goes on to say, that "If one turns away from the body with such absorbed interest as to forget it, the body experiences no pain." (S&H. Page 261, Lines 4 – 11). We should, like the man at the pool, follow divine orders to "rise, take up our bed, and walk." Completely healed. This is the true identity of man: A perfect mind and a perfect body.