I want to show you a picture,
What would you tell him about God?
One author has said: “I have seen the many horrors this world can produce… how can a loving God exist if you consider all of this?”
Suffering and trials are themes that have produced much debate on God’s existence and overall plan.
On a national survey, 17% poled answered if they could ask God one thing, it would be “why all the sufferings in this world?”
When personally confronted with heavy problems, we often wonder if life is only a game of luck.
If we wish to believe, we must reconcile the idea of a loving God with this world’s suffering and more importantly, our own.
The Jews believed it was due to sin. Look in John 9:1-2
In their mind there was a cause and effect principle.
Were they right to think like this?
It is true that trials often are the results of one’s choice. Sometimes it is due to the nation’s choice. See Deut. 28:15-23
Jesus pointed to that possibility, in John 5:14
But with this blind man, it was hard to guess where the problem came from. Why? Because he was born that way. Was it the result of the parent’s wrong way of living or was God already judging him for future sins that he would commit?
Maybe we believe the thinking of the apostles was weird. Why directly attribute sin to one’s problem. But we still do the same nowadays. Take the example of a parent who looses a child (“What have I done to deserve this?”). They often struggle for years with possible answers and guilt.
But would you say to this man on our picture that it was due to his sins or to his parents?
We could say for sure, he is still this way because Adam and Eve sinned and we no longer have access to the tree of life (Rev. 22:12) If we did, he wouldn’t still be handicapped.
But would this answer satisfy this guy?
We could go on for a long time in unfruitful arguments with someone on the exact causes.
What I want you to notice is that Jesus turned the attention of his apostles away from such debates.
In verse 3, we read: “…”
According to Jesus what matters is not so much looking backwards but that of looking forward, not to the causes but to the purpose!
His teachings bring our philosophy of life into question. We usually look at problems as an obstacle to happiness. What matters is our happiness. So problems can only be seen as awful.
Jesus says our trials are another means to glorify God. Whatever condition God allows us to be in should serve to bring praises to His name.
In that light, sufferings may not be an enemy, but another opportunity to live for Him, to bring glory to his name.
So what should we say to a man like the one on our pictures? We can encourage him saying his handicap should advance the kingdom of God.
By chance, he has already been told that. He says that he desires to do what God asks of him.
A terminally sick preacher would often ask the church to pray for his healing. But if God doesn’t want to grant it to me, than pray that I die teaching others how a Christian must leave this world. He died months later and taught just that.
Christ taught this as well. His suffering was unjust by human standards. We can’t fully understand why. But we know it was to display the works of God, through his death as well as through his life.
Today, Christ is telling us through this verse that we are not always going to understand what leads to our problems, but his glory can be manifested in us, regardless our divorce, our family problems, our sickness, our handicaps.
We can be like Paul, who had a thorn in the flesh and asked for relief. But then when he didn’t get it, he accepted his handicap as a way to become stronger for God. 2 Cor. 12: 7-9
A famous basketball player learned that after contracting cancer. He wrote that struggles are an opportunity to walk hand in hand with God.
In conclusion, what can I say? This blind man’s condition was an opportunity for the works of God to be displayed. See verses 4-8
And thanks to his disease, he learned to stand for Jesus regardless of the Jews’ rejection. Notice his position and words compared to his parents in the rest of the story, v. 9-34
Have you wondered how he learned to be so strong? The answer partly lies in what he had learned through his handicap.
Notice in the text, he had a family, yet was a beggar. Notice his family once called in was not rejoicing nor defending him. He had learned to live rejected from the people that should have meant the world in his life.
When you have learned to live rejected from all those who should be important in the flesh, it is a peace of cake to accept the rejections of a few stuck up Jews.
His past allowed him to live in a thousand ways for God. And mine? Do I cry non-stop about my problems or do I use them as an opportunity to bring glory to him?
As I end, let me ask you to guess what this man without legs or arms do in life? He has become a powerful preacher for God. Here is his only fear:
I believe that if you have the desire and passion to do something, and if it's God's will, you will achieve it in good time. As humans, we continually put limits on ourselves for no reason at all! What's worse is putting limits on God who can do all things. We put God in a "box". The awesome thing about the Power of God, is that if we want to do something for God, instead of focusing on our capability, concentrate on our availability for we know that it is God through us and we can't do anything without Him. Once we make ourselves available for God's work, guess whose capabilities we rely on? God's!
Isn’t it wonderful ?
Let us pray.