“This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3)
The disciples see a man who was born blind, and they assume that his blindness is someone’s fault. This was a common way of thinking about suffering in those days. Sickness and disability were often believed to be a result of sin somewhere in the family line.
If we think about it, we can see how people could fall into that kind of thinking. It has happened in many cultures. If a person has a disability or a terrible disease, or if they are down and out in some kind of hardship, it can be convenient to blame them or their family or even their friends or community. It calms our fears if we can state a reason or a cause for something we don’t understand — or don’t want to.
In this story Jesus complicates things even more by implying that God allowed the man to be blind so that his healing by Jesus could help people see the works of God being done. This is hard to understand — there is no getting around that. Human suffering is a lot more complicated than we would like to believe. Sin has broken this world in ways that go beyond our understanding.
But at the same time, this story offers comfort because we see that God can and will work to bring good out of challenges and suffering. God works for our good in all things (Romans 8:28) — and he has redeemed us in Christ. When the works of God shine through adversity, he shows in a unique way that he is good and loves us.
Father, in difficult times, help us to see you working for good, wanting to free us completely from the curse of sin. Amen.