This past Sunday, the following passage of Scripture was read and discussed at the church we attended:
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. (John 9:1-3, ESV)
Jesus and his disciples are walking past a blind man, and the disciples are curious as to why he is blind. They assume, probably due to beliefs held by most at the time, that someone’s sin was the cause of the man’s blindness. They wanted to know who was to blame. Jesus surprised them by saying that the man was not blind due an act of sin by him or his parents.
We often ask the wrong question when we face valleys in our lives.
Years ago, anxiety and panic attacks warred against me. Fear reigned in my life. I felt crazy most of the time, as if I was actually losing my mind. I struggled to find a cure…something…anything to ease the suffering. I wrestled with what in the world could be causing me to go through such a difficult time in my life. And to add to the misery, I went a prolonged period of time in which I could not find anything to make me feel better. I felt hopeless. The question that the disciples asked Jesus in John 9:2 came to my mind. “God, what have I done?!?!!? What have I done to deserve this? What sin have I committed that you would punish me like this?”
We often make the false assumption that God is out to punish us.
I was desperate and the answer did not come to me. Therefore, I moved forward for a while thinking my question was not only the right question, but that the answer was key to me escaping the struggle I was in. I wanted so badly to know what I had done so that I could try to fix it, or at least never do it again! Just like with the disciples, I was also asking the wrong question and making false assumptions about God.
A better question to consider might have been, “What if this has nothing to do with God punishing me for some sin I’ve committed?”
We need to revisit the original Good News often in order to challenge and tackle false assumptions that trip us up.
For those of you who, like me and Jesus’ disciples, believe misfortune is always punishment for sin and that God is out to punish us (his children)…here’s some really, really good news…
God is not punishing us. He is not asking me to atone for my sins. Christ took on all of our sin and the punishment for it on the cross. When we trusted in Him, our relationship with God was solidified in a way that can never be broken. We are in His loving hands, now. Everything is about His grace. Grace is the foundation. Our walk with Him is not about performing well for Him to avoid His wrath. God loves us, unconditionally. He is not angry with us. Sin is not His focus when He looks upon us. He loves what He sees in us! He actually likes us! Is there discipline? Yeah, sure there is…but His motive is never punishment. Rather, His motive is always love and a desire to direct us to be everything He created us to be… in order to fulfill the destiny He has planned for us.
The Good News is hard to embrace when we face hurt, loss, pain, sickness, and other sources of suffering in this broken world.
Despite the freedom we can experience in the Good News laid out above, there will be times in which we will find ourselves far from resting in the truth of the Gospel. There are no cookie cutter answers to how to handle each and every time that we struggle with this (if you find one, please know that that particular “fix” will probably fail you at some point). From my experience, trusting myself with those who love me during those hard times is the best thing that I can do. When I am unable to see clearly, I must trust those who can see more clearly than I can. Their perspective and their love for me will become the caveat for God’s love and direction.
Follow us on twitter by clicking here. Also, if you would like, you can sign up to receive notifications of new blog posts and announcements here: