“As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:1-3 ESV).
It is a slippery slope to get into why people suffer. Is it because they sinned? Are they being punished? Is their suffering an attack of Satan?
I don’t believe for a moment that God uses sickness, disease, pain or suffering as a punishment. Who among us would wish sickness on our children because they disobeyed? The devil does attack; sometimes those attacks are physical.
God’s sovereignty isn’t often discussed these days. Sovereignty, in it’s simplest form, means that God is the Supreme Ruler of everything; and as such, He can do as He pleases without having to provide us with an explanation. We want to understand everything. It’s a part of our culture. We tell our children to do something, and they respond with, “Why?”. Our bosses give us direction and we question, “Why? What value are we going to obtain from the action requested?”.
But God’s sovereignty does not require an explanation. How could we presume to be able to understand His reasons anyway? “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8 ESV).
Paul learned this lesson. He had some sort of physical condition; he called it a “thorn in the flesh”. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9 ESV).
In our text, Jesus’ answer to His disciples wasn’t what they were expecting. This was indicative of how people, then and now, try to rationalize things they don’t understand. Jesus helped them to see that the answer to the question “Why?” is not always that simple, and definitely not always as satisfying.
God is always at work to bring the lost home to Him.
Sometimes, we find ourselves enduring things that we would rather not. For me it’s chronic migraine. Since the answer I seem to be getting from Heaven regarding my healing is either “No” or “Not Yet”, I’m learning to ask myself how I can be the best version of me without being healed; I’m looking for ways that God might be able to use my pain for His glory.
It’s not easy. And I know that what I suffer is far less than what some other people suffer. But I believe that regardless of the obstacles we face in life, until our hourglasses run out of sand, it is our lot to live for the glory of God.
For those of you who are suffering and find that Heaven is silent. You have my prayers. Like Paul, we need to find God’s grace sufficient to carry our load and find peace in His presence.
As always, these are the musings of a mindful disciple. Blessings on your week!