Do Not Pass Me By - Beside Bethesda

Do Not Pass Me By

IF YOU SPEND ANY TIME at all with me, you will know that I love the old hymns. I love to hear them, and I love to sing them. But for me, it’s something more than nostalgia or enjoying a particular style of music.

I don’t just sing hymns because I want to.

I sing because I have to.

I remember darker days when I was first injured and in the hospital. I wanted so much to cry—and to just go on crying for the rest of my life. Instead, I would stifle the tears and comfort myself with one of the old hymns of the church:

Savior, Savior,

Hear my humble cry;

While on others Thou art calling,

Do not pass me by.

When I sang those words, or even hummed the melody softly to myself late at night in my hospital room, it always reminded me of the pool of Bethesda in John chapter 5. When friends visited me at the hospital, I often asked them to read that passage to me.

John speaks of one man who had been there, lying beside that pool, for thirty-eight years. The account goes on to say that “when Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time” (verse 6), He approached the disabled man and asked him a question.

I can’t tell you how many nights I would picture myself there at the pool of Bethesda, on a blanket, perhaps lying next to the paralyzed man on his straw mat. In my mind’s eye we would lie there, waiting. He would be waiting for an angel to stir up the waters. Then, somehow, he would inch himself over to the pool and slip into it for supernatural healing.

He was waiting for an angel . . . but I was waiting for Jesus.

I knew that the Son of God Himself would be coming, stepping out of the bright morning light, slipping under the shade of the colonnades and standing for a moment, looking out at the desperate, nearly hopeless little band of disabled men and women waiting at the water’s edge.

In my fantasies, I would see Him pausing by the pool, His disciples puzzled by the delay and eager to keep moving toward the temple. And I would cry out to Him, not wanting Him to leave, not wanting Him to miss me, lying on that pavement in the shade of a pillar.

“Jesus! Oh, Jesus! Don’t pass me by. Here I am! Heal me! Help me! Don’t leave me here like this!”

And the truth was, though I couldn’t see it at the time, He had seen me all along. He had known me. He was aware of my fear, my sorrow, my despair, my longings, and my crushing need. He would not—did not—pass me by. He never has passed me by. And He never will, not in all eternity.

Jesus’ ceaseless watch-care and compassion for us is no fantasy. In Psalm 77, the psalmist reflected on the Lord’s presence during some of the darkest, most turbulent moments of his nation’s history. “Your path led through the sea,” he recalled, “your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen” (verse 19). In other words, “We couldn’t see You or feel You in those heartbreaking, terrifying moments, but looking back, it’s very clear that You led us and protected us every step of the way.”


Jerusalem says, “The LORD has deserted us;

the LORD has forgotten us.”

“Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child?

Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?

But even if that were possible,

I would not forget you!

See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.”

Isaiah 49:14-16, NLT

Have you ever jotted down a phone number on your own hand because you were in a pinch, needed to remember it, and couldn’t find a scrap of paper? Our God has no such memory problems, but to help you understand His constant attention and love, He tells you that He has written your name on the palm of His hand. Carry that mental picture with you into your day . . . and your night.

From the Book:

Beside Bethesda cover image

Beside Bethesda
By Joni Eareckson Tada

Read Now