And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“This is what happens to people like that.”
“If he’d acted right, he wouldn’t be in this situation.”
We’ve all probably heard things like that before, and we might have even said them. It’s common to think that people’s problems happen because they did something wrong, and it’s a way of thinking that goes all the way back to the beginning of time.
Certainly, there are some behaviors that are dangerous by nature.
- Someone who stands in the middle of a busy street will likely get hit.
- Someone who jumps into a lion’s cage will usually get attacked.
- Jumping out of a plane without a parachute is a great way to go “splat.”
- Sticking your finger into a light socket will give you a huge jolt and a fried hairdo.
But that’s not what was going on in today’s scripture. The man the disciples were talking about was born blind, and they believed that someone had to have sinned – either the man or his parents – to allow that to happen.
The truth is that we live in a sinful world where bad things happen to good people. Babies are born blind. Good and godly people die in terrible accidents or from awful diseases. While the people didn’t get sick because of sin, the illnesses and accidents do happen because of sin – one that happened thousands of years ago. When Adam and Eve decided to disobey God and eat the fruit, they turned loose sin into the world, and we’re all dealing with it now.
Jesus reminds us that ultimately God can do amazing things through illnesses and accidents. In this case, Jesus healed the blind man, and God was glorified as a result. Of course, it doesn’t always happen that way.
My Mom fought breast cancer for five years, and I watched the disease waste her away to nothing. She was an amazing woman of God who spent her life glorifying the Lord, and yet here she was, dying of cancer. God didn’t heal her here on Earth, but she ultimately received her perfect and healed body when she went to meet Him in Heaven. And God has been glorified ever since, as Mom’s legacy of worship and devotion to the Lord lives on through her friends and family.
Today, when you see the news about terrible things happening in the world, or when someone tells you about someone being sick or in trouble, remember that these things happen in a broken and sinful world. Pray for the people who are in trouble, and look for how the Lord can be glorified, even in the midst of trials and tragedy.
Reflection copyright © 2017 Doug DeBolt.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.