In John 9 Jesus and the disciples are walking near the city of Jerusalem when the disciples ask Him an important question. Whether you have verbalized it or not, you likely have the same question. Why are some people born with illnesses and others are not? Why are some healed, and others appear not to be?
In Jesus’ day it was believed that if you were born with an illness, it was the result of someone’s sin. I’m not sure if there is a more damning belief than this. To assume that a person born with an illness was a form of punishment is to grossly misunderstand the character of God.
In an attempt to make sense of things we don’t understand, we sometimes fall (waaay) short and do more harm than good. Jesus seizes this opportunity to help set a generational misconception straight.
It is a true statement that sin, in general, has corrupted God’s creation. “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” Romans 8:22
Yet, Jesus makes it clear that it was not this man’s sin nor his parents’ sin that caused him to be born blind. God doesn’t leverage our personal sin against us. There is no doubt that our actions have a cause and effect property associated with them but that’s not God’s punishment.
“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,” Hebrews 9:27
Judgement follows death. Not before.
I sometimes wish this weren’t the case. I would be a lot less inclined to continue to sin if I felt the punishment of my actions immediately. But this is the mercy and grace of God. God does not delight in punishment but in forgiving repentant people.
Jesus replies to the disciples, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” God is in the redemption business. Although it’s not God’s plan or will for people to be born with debilitating issues, it is within the power of God to redeem them.
I have prayed in faith, fully believing that God is able to heal someone of their sickness only to have them pass away. It can be an extremely discouraging experience compounded with the loss of someone who was deeply loved!
In these moments I reflect on the words of Paul, “8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9a
Paul pleaded with God three times, to heal him, but He did not. If there was anyone close to God, who might deserve a little extra favor, it was Paul. Two-thirds of the New Testament was written through Paul. He was one of the greatest missionaries and teachers of the Gospel of all-time.
God had something greater in store for Paul, a sufficient amount of grace. Grace would enable Paul to live and thrive despite this undisclosed illness. Sufficient grace would empower Paul to be productive in life even with the limitations of his flesh.
I have been humbled to see people excel in life who appear to have physical limitations that should reduce their life to its lowest denominator. These individuals reveal the grace of God in ways physical healing may not demonstrate.
One day when we receive the inheritance of our faith, we will be given a new body that is imperishable and free from every sickness, sin, and death. At that moment, the time we endured on earth with illnesses will feel like a drop in the bucket.
Pray for God’s healing in your life. Don’t’ allow circumstances to prevent you from praying. But listen to the voice of God who may perform a bigger miracle in supplying you with an ample amount of grace so that you exceed your greatest dreams despite your limitations!