Suffering for the Glory of God

I feel drawn to expound more on the question of suffering.  I feel that I may have treated it too trivially, so I will be dedicating the next few posts to the question of suffering.

In John 9, Jesus and the disciples encounter a man blind from birth.  The disciples ask an interesting question of Jesus by asking whether this this man or his parents had sinned to cause him to be born blind.  Jesus responded by saying that neither had sinned, but the man was born blind so that “the works of God might be displayed in him (NASB).”  Jesus proceeded to heal the man, who then after a devastating turn of events, went from being newly healed and happy to being kicked out of the synagogue.

I had to struggle with that passage for a while.  How can this really be fair?  Here was a gentleman who had done nothing to deserve this pain, had been reduced to begging by his “lot in life,” and then, when finally given his sight 30 years after the fact, gets kicked out of the synagogue.  How could that really be fair when this guy got the shaft so that “the works of might be displayed in him (NASB).”

Consider this:  how many lives have been changed due to this man, blind from birth, being touched by Jesus?  How many souls have been saved by this man’s simple confession: “Lord, I believe.”  The countless sermons, books, even this blog post that have been written and discussed due to this blind man are staggering.  And to think, one day in heaven, we will be standing with this beggar, now being rewarded by the LORD; some of us will be there BECAUSE OF HIM!!  Consider the brave stand the beggar made before the Pharisees that were demanding he confess that Jesus was a sinner.  Think about the change that went into this man as he, being the former beggar outside the temple, now gave a theology lesson of his own to these legalists.  I am sure that, when we congregate together in eternity with one another, this man will consider his 30 years of blindness but little more than an inconvenience in consideration of the gracious rewards at the table of the LORD.

What does this mean for us today?  In a world that is sure to provide plenty of pain and more than its share of tragedy, there is room for God to take tragedies in our lives and breed in us something that is glorious to Him.  We can look the victims of heartache in the eye, and lovingly, compassionately let them know that they have hope in Christ.  We can be reminded of a blind beggar who met the Master, worshiped at His feet, and became part of ancient scripture to be retold over and over.  Sometimes even out of senseless chaos, the Lord can be glorified.  Maybe it is the change in that person’s life.  Perhaps it is through the response of those acting as the hands and feet of God.  At any rate, we can rejoice alongside Paul when he says that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

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