Why Is This Happening?
How does God do it? How does he consistently bring a timely word from his Scriptures in ways that unmistakably reveal his compassionate planning? I’ve heard many a person describe the wonder of needing a word from the Lord and finding his perfect provision when they turned at random to a particular passage. But I am even more impressed how the God appoints the timely truth through the more commendable path of disciplined reading. I find great encouragement, beyond the specific word itself, seeing my Father faithfully speak in the appointed reading for the day.
Today’s provision was from John 9 recounting Jesus’ miraculous saving of the man born blind. The story begins with Jesus and his disciples passing the pitiable man in Jerusalem, prompting one of the disciples to ask, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
The man had been blind all his life and had lived to adulthood in a world that consigned people like him to a life of shame. Such people endured years of heartbreaking hardship, made all the worse by the general assumption that they deserved it! Clearly, thought most, he must have done something wrong and God is punishing him. Or perhaps his parents are receiving divine punishment.
This rude heresy may shock our modern sensibilities, but when suffering comes, we wrestle with the same basic question: Why is this happening? And we sometimes suspect the same cause; God must be punishing me. Or he must not care. But Jesus opens our eyes to what God is most often doing in the midst of pain.
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (John 9:3) Obviously, Jesus is not saying the man was sinless since all people are sinners, and all suffering ultimately stems from our fallen condition. But Jesus declared this man’s hard life was not the result of some particular sin, but of God’s plan of particular grace. God had a plan to display his glorious character in this man’s life.
This truth gives power and vitality as I face my own challenges and join others as they face theirs. My prayer list is overwhelmingly long with health problems, troubled marriages, relational fracture, habitual sin, spiritual apathy, stubborn hardheartedness, societal decay and persecution of believers around the world. But I can be confident God is sovereignly planning to display his glory through it all. He may do so through miraculous healing, as with the blind man in John 9, or he may do so by granting grace to endure each day. God may display his glory by restoring a marriage, or he may do so by continuing his steadfast love while husbands and wives sin more grievously against one another. God will display his glory as sinners repent and as rebels go from bad to worse.
The reason this is such good news is that we were created to be eternally satisfied by the glory of God. So, I aim to face the challenges of this week with faith in God’s purpose to display his glory for our good.