Sovereign Over Suffering
Sometimes God has something better for us than an answer to our questions.
When Jesus’ disciples saw “a man blind from birth” (John 9:1), they asked the probing question: Who is to blame? Yet Jesus’ answer indicates that the disciples were asking the wrong question. Rather than looking for someone to blame for the blind man’s state, they needed to learn a lesson about God’s sovereignty over suffering.
Their assumption was that sin and suffering are intimately connected. This assumption is generally true. Genesis 3 makes clear that it was the entry of sin into the world that disrupted the goodness of the world. All the thorns and thistles—the disharmony, mayhem, illnesses, and everything else—are a consequence of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Yet while the disciples’ assumption is understandable, their belief that there was a connection between the sin and the sufferings of a particular individual put them on shaky ground.
It is encouraging to know that two millennia ago those closest to Jesus had questions about suffering. We, too, face these questions when the news from the doctor is the opposite of what we had hoped for, and perhaps most acutely of all when our loved ones face pain that we cannot remove. We face them, too, as we talk with those in our community.
When we search the Scriptures, we see that even though there is a cost to be paid for our sin, the suffering we experience is not the form of payment. God’s word doesn’t introduce us to a deity on a deckchair who is indifferent to our pain. Rather, it directs us to a God on a cross, who understands rejection, pain, and grief at the deepest level because He has experienced those things. Not only that, but He did it for us. He has “borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4) and, in bearing the crushing weight of our sin on Himself, has made it so that “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). The same Jesus who gave the man born blind his sight (John 9:6-7) has given you, born in sin as you are, your salvation. We may not understand why God leads us along the paths that He does in this life, but we have an eternity of pain-free joy in His presence to see how, through all of it, He was guiding us toward our heavenly home.
Have you been through something so difficult that it has caused you to lose your bearings? Have your circumstances left you looking for someone to blame? God suffered and died for you, and He has promised never to leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). He is not surprised by your situation or your struggle. He might not give you answers right now, but He has given you the cross, which assures you that there is no length to which He will not go to for your eternal good. Come to Him with all of your pain and confusion, and He will give you rest.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
1As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud 7and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
8The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.”
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