Blind for the Light
By Anthony Casperson
A beggar sat outside of a place of worship. Others saw an outcast, one who had committed some heinous sin. He saw nothing, for he had been born blind. For his entire life, this beggar never saw a thing. Never saw the love in his parent’s eyes. Never saw the beauty of the temple outside of which he sat. And he never saw the looks of disgust that others threw his direction because of his physical disability.
Though, I’m sure he’d heard enough of the disparaging words as others whispered to themselves about the poor individual. People clucking their tongues at him. People praising God that they were not like this blind man. Children asking what was wrong with the man who sat day after day in the same area, hoping for the mercy of others to provide what his ailment didn’t allow.
One day it wasn’t a child who asked the question, but a few grown men. “Who sinned that this man was born blind? Him, or his parents?” Another group of people casting judgement on him because God had allowed him to be born this way.
I’m sure he’d wondered why. Why did he have to be born this way? Why did he have to put up with being unwanted? Why did he have to sit and beg for mercy from merciless people? Why didn’t the powerful God, whose temple he sat in front of, help him? Were the people right? Was he unworthy? Was he deserving of so little that he had to suffer like this?
Footfalls from one person in the crowd around the questioners approached. Was this a good thing? Or a bad thing? They had just questioned his value. But it could be someone choosing to give him money. A voice came from the footfalls, “Neither he nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be put on display.”
The voice continued for a few more seconds, ending with, “I am the Light of the world.” And then the sound of one spitting came near the beggar. Likely flinching as he awaited the wet sensation thrust upon his person. But it never came.
Kind words neared his face as the God of the universe, enfleshed in humanity, knelt down in front of the man. Using the mud made from the spit and dirt, Jesus covered the man’s eyes and told him to go wash himself, that he might be healed. He did wash and he was healed.
There’s much more to the story in John 9, but the questioning of the disciples (and likely questioning of the man born blind) makes me wonder how many other people see someone suffering and wonder what they did to deserve the punishment.
Someone loses a job, or a marriage ends, or a child is born with a physical disability and we wonder why God could allow such a thing. What did they do to deserve this? A person suffers from depression or anxiety and we sit back thinking, “Well, they just need to learn how to trust more. Why else would they suffer like this?” And we, who are the one suffering, question God, “Why do you allow this? What did I do? What can I do to get out of this place of suffering?”
We question, focusing on the mess. We wonder, trying to find escape. We ask, hoping for release.
But Jesus reminds us, in John 9, that the question of why is not as important as seeing what God will do through our situation. In John 8, Jesus had claimed to be God in the temple. The leaders, in their zealous blindness, called it blasphemy, and sought to kill him. But Jesus escaped their threats.
As he was leaving the temple, with people hot on his heels, he passed by the blind man. He stopped. He healed. And he showed the light of the world to those too blind to see it. His statement “I am the Light of the world” is one of his claims of God-hood. The God who spoke to Moses, the great I Am, had come in human flesh. And he came to bring sight to those who have never seen.
God worked a miracle in the mess of a man who thought himself worthless, and it was through the mess that God chose to work. All too often we question why God allows us to suffer, without seeing the miracle he works through it.
We might suffer for weeks, months, years, even most of our lives, but God is able to work his glory through our suffering. So, let’s stop questioning why God allows our suffering, and ask how God plans to use it for his glory.