I'd like for you to read the entire chapter (John 9) first, and then come back to the study blog. Do that for me, won't you? I'll wait right here.
Back already? Isn't that an awesome chapter? Let's dive in!
In this passage, Jesus' attention is drawn to a man who had been "blind from birth." Jesus' disciples ask about the cause of the man's blindness. They want to know, in their human struggle to understand, if blame can be assigned. But Jesus turns the question around, and tells them that it wasn't that this man sinned, or his parents (those would be human causes) but that the works of God might be displayed in him (that's a divine purpose).
We could say then, that God doesn't just respond to things in this world, but He plans things for this world. He is not necessarily responding to a human cause, but He is always planning a purpose.
Whoa. That is important. For me, for you, for everyone.
That means that no matter what mess we are in, or what pain we are feeling, the causes of that mess and that pain are not the most vital part of explaining it. The most important part of explaining it, is the purpose that God has for it.
Of course there are causes. Not saying that there are not. There are things that are our fault, and things that are other peoples' fault. But those don't define the meaning of the mess or the pain. The meaning is determined by God's purpose in it.
It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. (John 9:3)You see, like the disciples, our perspective is so limited, so narrow. Sometimes we even wonder, "Is God paying me back for being bad?"
As Charles Stanley wrote in "How to Handle Adversity," God is not the only source of adversity. Oftentimes adversity comes as a result of our own doing....in many cases the result of sin."
He goes on to say, "As much as we all want to know the answer to the "why" question, it is really not the most significant question. The real question each of us needs to ask is, "How should I respond?"
We'll be studying the blind man's response to his adversity and his healing. We'll find that if we do as he did, we'll not only have an abundant life, but we'll also be an incredible testimony to others!
If in the midst of our mess and our pain, we confess our sins and hold fast to Jesus, God's purpose for our mess and pain will be a good purpose, and be worth everything that we must endure. We know this is true - we can bank on it:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Now, none of this will make sense if God Himself, and His glory, is not your greatest treasure.
When Jesus tells us that the purpose of this man's blindness is that the works of God might be displayed in him, he is telling us that the outward showing of God's works and power has a value that outweighs years and years of blindness. It makes the adversity seem small by comparison with an awesome God and His purpose. In order to understand that, we must value God's works more than we value anything else . . . more than life itself, according to David in Psalm 63:3: “Your steadfast love is better than life.”The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. (I Corinthians 2:14)
Being loved by God, and being with Jesus forever, is better than having sight, and better than being alive in this world! If we don't believe that, then telling ourselves (in the midst of adversity) that God has a wise and good purpose in our mess and pain just won't give us a warm fuzzy feeling, will it? It won't mean much at all, if we aren't close to Him.
But here is the part that should mean so very much: if we do believe that He has a wise and good purpose in all of our pain, we will be comforted and strengthened. And we will be able to be patient in our own pain, and be able to help others in their dark times, too.
Jesus said to the prisoners in Smyrna, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Lord, help us to be faithful. Help us to see.