God’s Work on Display
Download the Transcript of Today's Podcast
Read 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 mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
Have you ever gone through a trial or suffered from an illness and wondered if your suffering is because God is punishing you for your sin? Does this passage support that theology?
Why do we get sick and suffer in this life? Is it because of sin? Well, that depends on what you mean. Some sicknesses are natural consequences for sinful behavior like STDs due to promiscuity or liver disease after years of drug and alcohol abuse. And yes, sometimes innocent children pay the price for their parents’ sinful lifestyles. For example, children born with fetal alcohol syndrome or born addicted to drugs.
But most diseases, disorders, and other physical trials are a part of living in a fallen world and they impact all of us indiscriminately. In his New Testament Commentary, Warren Wiersbe explained: “In the final analysis, all physical problems are the result of our fall in Adam, for his disobedience brought sin and death into the world (Romans 5:12). But afterward, to blame a specific disability on a specific sin committed by specific persons is certainly beyond any man’s ability or authority. Only God knows why babies are born with handicaps, and only God can turn those handicaps into something that will bring good to the people and glory to His name.”
We can’t presume to know the mind of God on these matters. It’s a lesson that Job’s friends learned the hard way and that we’d do well to learn from them. But we do know that God can take our human illnesses and weakness and use them for His glory.
In today’s verses, we read that when Jesus and His disciples came across a man who’d been born blind, the disciples asked Him if the man was being punished for his own sin or for the sins of his parents. But Jesus’ answer was, “neither.” He said that this man was born blind so that “the works of God might be displayed in him.” In other words, God allowed this man to be born blind for His own glory. In this case, God’s power was displayed through a miraculous healing.
But we know that God doesn’t choose to miraculously heal all of us all the time. In 2 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul struggled with a “thorn in the flesh” that tormented him. We don’t know exactly what Paul was struggling with but we do know that he asked God to remove it three times but God allowed it to remain. Paul wrote: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
In Paul’s case, the thorn remained, but God’s power was still on display through His work in Paul’s life despite his weaknesses. John MacArthur put it this way in his study Bible: “The weaker the human instrument, the more clearly God’s grace shines forth. Paul took no pleasure in the pain itself, but rejoiced in the power of Christ that it revealed through him.”
Friend, if you are suffering with a physical ailment, I don’t know why God has allowed that in your life. But I do know that God can use it for His glory. His work can be on display in your life even in your inabilities, weaknesses, and struggles. Glory to God!
God, it is hard to suffer and not understand why. But, I ask that Your power be on display even in my struggles whether You miraculously heal me and take my struggles from me or You give me grace and strength and work through me despite my weaknesses. Either way, please use my weaknesses for Your glory. Amen.
Reveal: Do you have a weakness that God may use to demonstrate His power to those who know you?
~ Pastor Nat Crawford