"Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him." - John 9:2-3 NLT
As the end of 2017 draws near, it’s natural to look back and reflect. And this year I look with a lens of bittersweet colors. There are tones of happy yellow and exciting orange, and shades of deep blue and cold gray. While I’ve experienced a lot of blessings this past year, I’ve also observed a great deal of sadness.
I’ve seen too many friends lose loved ones this year. Cancer has rocked my family’s world. The prevalence of mental illness in young people weighs heavier on my heart as I prepare for a career in counseling. And I’m increasingly hesitant to turn on the daily news due to brokenness after brokenness after brokenness. I’m sure your perspective is a similar mix of colors. With unexpected loss, the tight grip of disease in the world, and the evening news a constant show of tragedies, it can be easy for us to ask the question:
Is God good? Was He ever really good? Is He still good?
First and foremost, before moving on, I want you to know that there is nothing wrong with asking these kind of questions. There is no shame in having questions and doubts. It is better to wrestle with your faith and explore it more deeply within the tension, than to passively agree. Trust is an active, intentional activity and it won’t always be easy. So if you’ve got questions and doubts today, join the club. We’ll welcome you warmly, because we have them too.
But back to the question: Is God good? Was He good? Is He still good?
Heartache and tragedy can bring feelings that make it difficult to remember God’s character. Even good memories can be overshadowed by sadness and fear. And that is why I believe it is essential to have at least one go-to story about Jesus that you can remember and reference back to when the flood of questions and doubts rush in.
My personal go-to story can be found in John 9-10.
In John 9, Jesus was traveling with His disciples (or His 12 closest friends and followers). As they walked along, they saw a man who had been blind since birth. The disciples asked Jesus, “Rabbi (or teacher), who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus replied, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:2-3 NIV)
After this, Jesus healed the man of his blindness. As with most of the miracles Jesus performed here on earth, this was controversial. Some people did not believe Him and even accused Him of being cursed. But others believed that Jesus was God, something that would change their lives for eternity, because of this miracle (John 10:19-21).
So why is this my go-to story? It is a story of both tragedy and redemption, and it gives us a glimpse into God’s sovereign and good perspective.
Our society today tends to be more accepting of those born with disabilities. However, back in Biblical times, someone who was born with an impairment, like being blind, was usually treated as an outcast. So for someone to have been born blind back then truly would have been a tragedy. The story says that this was a man, which would imply to me that he was old enough to have experienced lots of heartache and rejection in his life.
Often when we are faced with a tragedy, we want to know WHY, just like the disciples, who essentially asked, “Why did this tragedy happen? Was it a punishment for his sin? Was it a punishment for his parents’ sin?”
But in our search for why, we often forget who. We forget God’s very character. And that is why Jesus reminded them that this did not happen because of the man’s sin. God wasn’t punishing him. In fact, he and his family were good people.
And doesn’t this leave us with more questions? WHY, God, do bad things happen to good people?
But Jesus makes it clear that God allows bad things to happen, not as punishment, not as torture, not because He is evil…but because God is so good and so glorious that even tragedy brings Him glory. And I would argue that tragedy sometimes brings the greatest glory. It is in brokenness and suffering that God’s glory is often the most recognized.
This story encourages me in the midst of my own questions and doubts because it reminds me that God doesn’t make us suffer. But He loves us so much that He does make beauty out of the suffering we experience. Not only did He give the blind man vision, but in doing so He redeemed every rejection and pain that the man experienced.
By looking back and remembering this story of God’s character, I am reminded that God can make yellows and oranges out of my blues and grays, painting a view that is far more beautiful than anything this world can dream up. I remember that I can trust Him. And that He has a vision that is far more comprehensive and complete than my own.
Whatever tragedy you’ve experienced, or whatever pain you are a witness to, I hope this gently encourages you to press on and press into the Lord. Have confidence that He loves you even in your doubts, questions, anger, sadness, and pain; and that the same God who brought sight to a blind man and eternal life to the spiritually dead, is that same God who is writing YOUR story.
1. What tragedy or hard circumstance is making it hard to trust God right now?
2. In what ways in my own life, in the life of others, or in the Bible, have I seen evidence of God’s goodness?
3. How can remembering God’s goodness strengthen my faith in Him amidst this difficult circumstance?
Dear Heavenly Father,
Even when my feelings tell me You aren’t good, You have proved yourself to be good over and over again. Help me to focus more on Your character and less on my feelings. Thank You, though, that You aren’t offended by my questions and doubts. Thank You that I can be real with You and say, “This hurts.” Give me comfort and help me be a comforter to others. Thank You for loving me even when I hesitate to trust You. Let this be a reminder that You are trustworthy.
Love, Your Daughter
Want to know more about a relationship with God? CLICK HERE