“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.'” (John 9:1-3)
By Scott Armstrong
I am not a scientist, but I do remember a few things from my physics class in high school. I recall that the Law of Cause and Effect is very important. In chemistry, when I mixed chemical A with chemical B (cause), there was a small explosion (effect). Cool! When we are sick, we take medicine (cause) so that we will feel better (effect). The Law of Cause and Effect is all around us, and it helps our crazy world make sense.
So we should not be surprised when we want to boil everything spiritual down to simple cause and effect. You’ve heard it before: if you trust in God, he will make you rich with houses and cars and lots of money. On the other side, if a Christian develops cancer (effect), there has to be some spiritual cause, right? She lacks faith. Or maybe she has been secretly sinning (gasp!)!
In Jesus’ day, people took this law even further. In John 9, Jesus and his disciples pass a blind man on the road. He obviously was blind because of his own sin—or even his parents’ sin, correct (v.2)? That makes more sense—if people only suffer or experience difficulties in life because of the stupid things they do, that fits our idea of what is just and right. He or his family has sinned (cause). Therefore, this man is blind (effect).
Jesus blows that theory out of the water. Neither he nor his parents have done anything wrong. This man was born blind so that people could see God work in his life (v.3)! There was a divine purpose even in this man’s inability to see.
I wonder if we view the hardships in our life the same way. Sure, many times we bring bad things upon ourselves as a result of our stupid decisions or because of sin in our lives. But sometimes bad things happen to good people simply so that God’s work may be displayed in their lives. We do not always understand it. In fact, sometimes those around us will react with disbelief or shock (see the rest of chapter 9). But God has a plan. I don’t know about you, but that makes the darkness of the moment seem a whole lot more manageable. He will be with us and work in us until his purpose is displayed in our life.
*This reflection is part of a series of devotionals written for youth by Scott and Emily Armstrong.