Jesus answered, “His blindness has nothing to do with his sins or his parents’ sins. He is blind so God’s power might be seen at work in him.” John 9:3
So, why do bad things happen? The Good News Bible says “so God’s power might be seen at work.” The English Standard Version says “that the works of God might be displayed.” The English Revised Version says “to show what great things God can do.” And here is this man who was born blind. He’s been blind all his life into adulthood. And this handicap, this extreme difficulty, this hardship he has, was all really for a purpose. It was to show God’s glory through him. And I wonder, Lord, if every hard experience, even every tragedy, that I experience isn’t actually an opportunity for You to show Yourself God in my life? But what will my response be?
This account shares two responses to You, Jesus. But first I’ll start with this blind man. I get so excited about him. I don’t even think he was crying out as You went by. You were aware of this man and as You were passing by, You looked at him, I think even went over to him. You perceived his need, I think, even deeper than vision. Well, of course You did, because his blindness was meant for this day and meant for You. But the disciples were focussed on the wrong aspect of the blindness. They thought it was due to someone’s sin. Well, sin has effected everyone and everything and because sin came into the world we have things like blindness, disease, and tragedies. But through hindsight, I know something the disciples didn’t realize yet, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) You mean, even through the effects of sin? How glorious is that! You rise above sin, blindness, disease, tragedy and show Yourself stronger and greater!
It seems like everyone was looking at everyone else and trying to determine what kind of sinner they were based on the ease of their life. I wonder where that idea came from? Wasn’t it the same with Job’s life? His friends blamed it on sin in his life. But what was the real reason You allowed those tragedies in his life? You did it so You could make Yourself known, more manifest, in Job’s life. Hear his own confession, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees You.” This led to a proper response by Job. He despised himself and repented in dust and ashes. And You then responded by blessing Job’s humble response abundantly. Now You were glorified before everyone.
And what about Joseph? Think of all the tragic experiences Joseph suffered. Betrayed and almost killed by his own brothers. Sold into slavery. Falsely accused. Imprisoned. How bad can it get? And You mean to tell me, Lord, that each terrible experience was an opportunity for You to make Yourself known and glorified in his life for his benefit and the benefit of others? Joseph learned that truth from You. He shared this with his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today…”
Now, I can’t help but look at Your example. Who am I to complain when I have to sweat hard or even terrible stuff? What about You? The God of Heaven came down, was ridiculed, had to live like a lowly man (compared to God!), was betrayed by His own disciple, falsely accused, beaten beyond recognition, mocked, not even accepted by the people You came to save, and then crucified by the ones You loved. Does it get more tragic than that. Or I can look at it from the aspect of God having his child torn from Him and murdered brutally and heartlessly. Does it get worse than that? But it wasn’t by accident either even though people had planned it as evil. It was by Your design that “many people would be kept alive.”
But I think Your design, Your goal is to point us back to an important God fact. You are the center of everything. It’s all about You. I’m here for one real purpose. I’m here that Your works might be displayed in me. This is my purpose. This is the blind man’s purpose. This was Job’s purpose. This was Joseph’s purpose. This is every person’s purpose. And I hope no one thinks that’s not much of a purpose, because that is the ultimate privilege. Who do I think I am anyway? Does the world revolve around me? Who created it? Who holds it together? Who created me? Why? There’s the answer.
John Piper was thinking about things like this too. And he said it all narrows down to whether we think life is all about our own rights and goals or if life is all about God’s rights and goals. Let me share this quote, “Is the basic riddle of the universe how to preserve man’s rights and solve his problems (say, the right of self-determination, and the problem of suffering)? Or is the basic riddle of the universe how an infinitely worthy God in complete freedom can display the full range of his perfections – what Paul calls the “riches of his glory” (Romans 9:23) – his holiness and power and wisdom and justice and wrath and goodness and truth and grace?” Isn’t that what You, Lord, are trying to get me to focus on here in this account?
I have to go back to the account of this blind man. Because once I was blind too. And You had to apply Your mud to my eyes and I needed to be washed too, so to speak. It’s interesting that You send him to wash the spitty mud off his face in the pool of Siloam, that place where You just announced that You were the Living Water, that place that just had the celebration pouring out that water. So You send this man to that symbol of living water and he obeys and washes his eyes and receives his sight for the first time in his life. And people are amazed. Of course they would be! And he doesn’t even know who You are yet! And You healed him.
Then he is called before the religious leaders because it’s a Sabboth. And they quiz him over everything. And he tells them exactly what You did. It even causes a division among the leaders. Some were upset it was a Sabboth. But others saw there was a miracle. Who is this man? Yet, they don’t believe he was born blind. So they call his parents in who verify it but are too afraid to testify themselves of You. For the second time, they call this man back in. And I love his testimony. Preach it, Friend! “I’ve already told you what happened and you didn’t listen the first time. So why do you want me to tell you again? Do you want to follow Him?” Yeah, way to make a Pharisee angry! But he didn’t stop there. “Man, this is amazing! Here a miracle has been performed. This man just gave me sight when I had been born blind and You don’t know where He comes from? Isn’t it obvious? You teach us that God doesn’t listen to sinners. But He listened to this man. He must be a worshipper of God and doing His will. Since the world began, have you ever heard of this happening before?! No one could do this unless He was from God.” (my paraphrase). I think we just had a lesson in Logic 101 from a man who may have hardly gone to school!
Think of how glorifying to You that testimony just was! But what of the Pharisees’ responses to You. They wouldn’t accept it. They refused to glorify You. They refused to give You the glory that was simple enough to see for an unlearned man. Which leads me back to the question earlier. What will my response be to hard situations in my life? Will I allow You to be glorified? Or will I refuse Your glory?
This man was cast out because he couldn’t help but understand, because he had seen and experienced You for Himself. And then You came to Him and finished the job spiritually. He believed in You as the Son of Man and worshipped You. He had already demonstrated the level of his belief. You were worth the cost.
I could say so much more. And there is so much more to say. But this is my focus from You today, that Your works might be displayed in me. No matter what comes into my life, no matter how terrible or good it is, I want You to be on full display in me. Lord, use every situation for Your glory. Give me a boldness like that man. Because it’s not about what I’ve learned in this world. It’s all about what I’ve seen and experienced in You. You give the words, You give the power, You give the glory. And let me proclaim that which You share. Let me show forth Your strength. Let me allow You to shine to Your full extent through me and to others. Be the One whose rights and goals I strive for. Make me able. Actually make me more than able because You make me more than an overcomer, You make me a super-overcomer because You are a Super God. You are over and above and beyond all things. So be glorified in my life. Take my eyes off of the little things, like me, and draw my focus to You and the things on Your heart. May You be the grandest display that anyone has ever seen.