In reading through the Bible, I am currently in the Gospel of John. I was recently reading through chapter nine, which contains the story of Jesus’ encounter with the man born blind. Take a moment to read about the encounter.
John 9:1-7 (ESV) 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. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
There are several truths from this passage we could consider here, like Jesus being the light of the world or Jesus’ method of restoring the man’s eyesight. But I want us to focus on Jesus’ response to the disciples’ question of “who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Now at first we may find this an odd question. You and I know that some people are born blind. It is unfortunate. But I find it interesting that the disciples conclude that it had to be because he sinned, or his parents did.
Now let’s not be too hard on the disciples. I mean after all, they seemed sincere about their question. The truth is, we can be like the disciples from time to time as well. Let me explain. When an unexpected hardship interrupts our life, how often have we said, “Why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this?” What we are saying is that our good behavior should keep us from experiencing personal hardship.
We all believe that if we ‘obey the rules’ God has for us that we will not have to suffer the consequences of disobedience. I would agree with that. Not living a life obeying God will have its consequences. But does that mean we will never ever suffer? Does that mean our good behavior will always keep our lives free from hardship? No.
We must remember, we live in a fallen world. We know that living in a world of sin (rebellion against God) will bring many challenges and difficulties for everyone. If we fail to remember that then we will end up seeing hardship like the disciples did – from a legalist perspective. The Exalting Jesus Commentary explains it like this,
Legalism is the attempt to earn God’s favor through our own righteous works. A legalist operates under the (usually unspoken) assumption that people earn or keep God’s favor through righteous deeds, so legalists begin to view themselves as deserving of certain blessings. In other words, if I can earn God’s favor by my good works, then the more good works I do, the more God becomes indebted to me. He must reward my good deeds with blessings. If something “bad” happens to me, it must be because I did something bad.Even though we may not consciously think that we are trying to earn God’s favor, our reaction to the unexpected hardships of life indicates otherwise. For some reason we believe that our good behavior has made us exempt from hardship. We believe our good behavior has earned us a ‘free pass’ from suffering.
What I want you to see is Jesus’ response to the disciples in verse 3. Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” That is a different perspective, isn’t it? Instead of asking, “Why did this happen to me?” or trying to find out who is to blame, Jesus is telling us we should have a different perspective. We should be asking, “What is God trying to do in this situation? How will God’s glory be displayed in this hardship?”
Personally, I am often reminded that God is more concerned with our holiness than our happiness. He desires to transform our hearts and minds to look more like His Son’s. Sure, we will have our time of happiness in life, but your personal happiness is not God’s number one objective. He is doing something much greater that has more eternal value than we know. Not just for us, but far beyond what we could ever imagine!
So the next time an unexpected hardship interrupts your life, receive it and know that God is wanting to be glorified in all things in your life. He IS up to something greater!
Walking with you,