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Thankfulness Project: The Man Born Blind

I'm a daughter, granddaughter & niece of pastors. I love God & studying the Bible and want to empower others to do the same.

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Now as Jesus was passing 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?” -John 9:1-2

Our assumption sometimes when things go wrong, or an unfortunate or unpleasant thing happens, is that it must be punishment, or the person deserves what happened to them. When hard situations befall me, I am often tempted to complain, “Why me?” And it is easy to pass the same judgment on others, particularly on those we dislike, look down on, on those who have offended us, and even on the less fortunate. Compassion is a difficult thing to have for others, something we need to go to God for, to ask for His perspective, His love, His heart for people, replacing our selfish hearts with our limited human perspectives and understanding.

Perspective is what the disciples were lacking here when they asked this question. And rather than pass judgement on the disciples too, we should consider how many times we’ve asked the same question of those we feel superior toward, or those whose situations are so horrific we find them uncomfortable and would rather look away, ignoring their plight, their need for help. Jesus knew their hearts and limited understanding, for many of them were simple day laborers and not highly educated. They also lacked the New Testament we now have, for some of them would be its writers. Jesus knows our human tendency to look at things with a finite, limited perspective, and our constant, daily need for His perspective replacing ours, and for this we should ask Him.

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Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God would be displayed in him." -John 9:3.

“This happened so that the works of God” (some translations say “the power of God”) would be displayed, revealed, in him. This is the answer to the question many of the times when we ask God, “Why? Why did this thing, this (unwanted, unpleasant, horrible, uncomfortable, strange, nonsensical) thing happen to me, him, her, my loved one, my family member, my friend, that missionary, that pastor, that person who loves you and serves you? Shouldn’t they be exempt? Shouldn’t I? Look at how hard they work, serve, save, give, love. Shouldn’t that get them a free pass?”

Some of us really believe this, deep in our souls, if we’re willing to be honest. We believe that “bad” (unwanted, unpleasant, horrible, uncomfortable, strange, nonsensical) things shouldn’t happen to us, or to those we love, or to those who faithfully serve or obey God. We think we should get out of those things by doing “good” things or obeying God, and the things we perceive as “bad” should only happen to people who we think are “bad” or “deserve it.” This type of thinking, of belief, is skewed, human, and incorrect for many reasons:

“There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10), until Jesus “cleanses us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matt. 5:45)

I love this verse, because it gently leads us to the proper perspective. Some people consider rainy days “bad” days, or that rain is “bad weather.” They say it is bad weather because it makes life inconvenient for them, or because they want sunshine more than rain. The truth is, we ultimately want to be as comfortable as possible, and life to go smoothly. Sure, we want an adventure now and then, but we don’t want it to be unpleasant. We’re longing now for the type of life we won’t find until heaven. And is rain really bad? What happens to the earth when there is no rain?

“Judah mourns, her cities languish; they wail for the land, and a cry goes up from Jerusalem. The nobles send their servants for water; they go to the cisterns but find no water. They return with their jars unfilled; dismayed and despairing, they cover their heads. The ground is cracked because there is no rain in the land; the farmers are dismayed and cover their heads. Even the doe in the field deserts her newborn fawn because there is no grass. Wild donkeys stand on the barren heights and pant like jackals; their eyes fail for lack of food.” -Jeremiah 14:2-6

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So is rain really “bad” weather, or is it merely inconvenient or not preferable at certain times? (Do we not also label “bad” the circumstances we find unpleasant, uncomfortable, unfortunate, or unwanted?) Some of us love rainy days when we can be home with a book and a cup of tea or coffee. Some of us hate them when we have to go to work, when we were supposed to have an outdoor activity, or when we have small children to keep occupied indoors all day.

Rain is not inherently “bad” or “good”; our perspective on it, and whether or not we desire it now, is what makes it so in our minds. Likewise with sunshine. Do not both rain and sun make plants grow, and therefore food and crops, jobs for farmers and truckers who transport it and grocery store workers who stock it? And food for all of us? Even the most processed foods have some semblance of something that was once grown by the earth, by rain and sun. And speaking of sun and light, Jesus took the metaphor even further, perfectly relatable for an agrarian, farming society:

While it is daytime, we must do the works of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when no one can work...I am the light of the world.” John 9:4-5

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I, you, we all were made by God the Father, for Him, to receive Him as Lord and Savior, and to shine His love to the world. We were made to glorify Him, at all times, in every circumstance, giving thanks to God the Father, and living lives obedient to Him. In Him we live and move and breathe and have our being. We have no purpose outside Him. And all things have purpose in Him, all things work together for good for those that love Him. ALL things. Even the things our finite perspective and human experience tells us is “bad,” unpleasant, unwanted, even these are for His glory, somehow, in a way only HE can do. He takes the unfortunate, unpleasant, undesirable situation, and miraculously turns it into something useful for His kingdom. Look at the rest of the story of the blind man:

When Jesus had said this, He spit on the ground, made some mud, and applied it to the man’s eyes. Then He told him, “Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam” (which means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came back seeing. At this, his neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging began to ask, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was, but others said, “No, he just looks like him.” But the man kept saying, “I am the one.” “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked. He answered, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and anointed my eyes, and He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed and received my sight.” -John 9:6-11

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The man was born blind so Jesus could heal Him and receive glory. While Jesus didn’t heal every blind man who came across His path, just as He doesn’t instantly remove every obstacle or heal every ailment or unpleasantness or discomfort in our lives, there was and is purpose in everything that God allows.

Everything we perceive as “bad” may not actually be. We need eyes opened by Jesus to see things correctly, to see the purpose and let go of our hang up on whether or not we wanted this to happen now. Instead of being like toddlers demanding our way, or things to happen in our time, or to be exempt from the things we deem uncomfortable, we need to pray for and desire His perspective on EVERY situation, and every person in our lives, even what we don’t like or desire that He has brought to our lives.

We need Him to heal our sight, our perspective, and give us eyes to see the truth, the good, the purpose in everything. And to give thanks to the One who is working out all things for the good of those that love Him, and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).

you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. -James 1:3-5

© 2021 Amanda Lorenzo

Comments

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on April 19, 2021:

Well presented.

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