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. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” – John 9:1-5
When bad things happen, a very common question is “why”. Whether it’s in search of a scientific answer or a spiritual one, we want an answer. An answer that can hopefully avoid any further suffering or horrible outcome. And something that can make us feel better in the meantime.
In Jesus’s time, a lot of people thought suffering was a direct consequence of sin. In John 9, his disciples reveal this line of thinking when they approached a man who had been born blind. Who sinned? His parents or would it be something the man did in his lifetime?
But Jesus flips that script. Instead, he responds, this happened that the “works of God might be displayed in him.” And then he heals the man. It turns out the wrong question was being asked.
Instead of why it should be “what must I do?” Not what must I do so I don’t suffer, but what must I do in the midst of suffering. Just like when a job is handed to you or a new life stage, any major event good or bad, I believe as a Christian that it is my responsibility to respond with “What would you have me do with this?” It’s when I ask that question and seek out the answer with open eyes and heart that I get to see God work through the suffering to reach others.
That man woke up that day not knowing the miracle that he would get to experience. We don’t know what is in store for us in this life. But good or bad, I know that God can give purpose to it all.