David Gelernter suffered permanent injuries when he opened an explosive package sent by the man known as the Unabomber. But he has refused to view himself as a helpless victim or to wallow in self-pity. Gelernter writes, “When you encourage a man to see himself as a victim of anything —crime, poverty, bigotry, bad luck—you are piling bricks on his chest.”

The tendency to see oneself as a victim of life’s injustices is widespread today. It’s easy for all of us to feel that our misfortunes have somehow deprived us of the opportunity or the will to become the kind of people we long to be.

I have often pondered the question Jesus asked the man lying by the pool of Bethesda: “Do you want to be made well?” (Jn. 5:6). The man answered with an excuse that was overpowered by the command of Christ: “Rise, take up your bed, and walk” (v.8).

Because we live in a sin-damaged world, we will suffer injustice. Many things aren’t in our power to change. Obstacles don’t disappear merely by our exercise of faith. So what does the Lord want us to do about circumstances that may paralyze us? Hear His question to the man by the pool, “Do you want to be made well?” Then rely on His strength and act on the things you can change.