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 work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work 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
Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” John 9:2. In Israel at this time, the Rabbis taught that suffering was a punishment and was a result of sin. If a person was born with a disability then the Rabbis believed either the unborn baby sinned while in its mother’s womb or that the parents had sinned in some grievous way. Job’s friends had a similar view of his suffering, and tried to persuade Job of their point of view in Job chapters 3-37.
Desiring to cast blame is a common human emotion and reaction to suffering. My experience with this occurred when our son Joshua was brain injured by a cord accident at his birth. Some family and friends urged us to sue the doctor, or the hospital for negligence. My husband and I didn’t believe the medical people had done anything wrong and we chose not to sue. But instead had to deal with our feelings that we were to blame for Joshua’s injury. Joshua was large, and I had had 2 previous C-sections. Our doctor would have preferred that we schedule a C-section again, but agreed to let us do a trail labor. We will never know exactly why he was injured during birth, but in fact no one was to blame.
When someone is injured, or born with a disability, or a young person tragically dies, the feeling of wanting to cast blame on someone or something is a natural human response. But Jesus’ answer to his disciples is the answer we need to seek too. “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life,” John 9:3. We should pray for physical healing for people who are hurt, ill or disabled, knowing God doesn’t always heal everyone while they are on this earth. Sometimes we are asking the wrong question. Instead of casting blame, ask – what is God doing? How can God be glorified in this situation or this circumstance in this person’s life? God showed us Joshua had purpose even though he was disabled. He brought joy to many, and our love for our son was a wonderful visual reminder to many of how God loves all of us unconditionally. Enjoy this song about this story.
By Grace Hunter