Day 40

The good side of suffering

Jesus returned to Galilee, continued to train His apostles, and prepared the next group of disciples whom He would soon send out on their first mission trip. But there is another feast, the Feast of Dedication or Lights. This is not an Old Testament feast, but a new one added several years before Jesus arrived. This was in honor of the miracle when God supernaturally provided light in the lamps when there was not enough oil to keep them burning when the temple was taken back during the Jewish Maccabees’ revolt under the leadership of Judas Maccabees. What will happen on this trip to Jerusalem?

Read John 9:1-41.

What would it be like to be blind from birth? As a blind person, what would it be like to hear this conversation near you?

Trace the progression of the blind man receiving sight.

V.1

v.11

v. 17

v. 27

v. 33

v. 38

Trace the progress of the Pharisees becoming blind.

v. 15

vs. 16

v. 24

v.28-29

v. 34

v. 39

What lessons can we learn from this story?


As Jesus is on His way to the Feast of Lights with many disciples, they pass by a man they later discover was blind from birth. It was the belief at that time that if someone was suffering, it was because they or someone close to them had sinned. This is still a commonly held belief worldwide and in the Christian Church. Most of us have grown up with the teaching that suffering and poverty are always due to poor choices one makes in life and the fault of one’s inability to get motivated and go to work. While it is true that we all can experience suffering and poverty because of our bad choices, there are other reasons why God lets us go through suffering. If you have not been in a season of suffering or poverty, you will be at some point in your life. It’s not always because of your lack of motivation- not always because of sin. It’s simply part of the human experience. Sometimes there is suffering.

I can understand suffering for bad choices, but what about when you suffer innocently? What then? Why do good people suffer through hard times that are not deserved? Why are babies born blind? Why do innocent children suffer at the hands of abusive parents? Jesus answers these questions in this passage, but be warned– it may seriously change your viewpoint and cause you to wrestle with the justice issues in your life.

The disciples questioned Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2). They knew sin caused suffering in people’s lives. What is shocking is Jesus’ response to their question by saying that “neither this man nor his parents sinned” (John 9:3). Sometimes people suffer for reasons other than poor choices and the sin of others. Jesus says this man was born blind just “so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (John 9:3). In other words, this thirty-something-year-old man was born blind so that, on this day, Jesus could walk by and declare himself to be the Light of the World and open his eyes to the glory of the Father. It is so hard to get my mind around this concept that God would allow someone to suffer so that He might be glorified. I am so me-centered that I think the world revolves around my family, friends, and me. I struggle to understand how a good God would allow evil and suffering to exist. The problem is not God’s; the problem is mine. I think God exists for me when, in reality, I exist for Him. He is the center, not me. What is happening in our world will ultimately bring Him honor and glory because it is all about Him and not me. I want it to be about me, but the truth is that no matter how much I try to make it about me, it is still about Him. He alone sits enthroned on high (Ps.113:5).

My world says that poor people are cursed and that poverty is something to avoid at all costs. Yet, Jesus says blessed are the poor (Luke 6:20) and that all those who live godly lives in Christ Jesus will suffer (2Tim. 3:12). poverty and suffering come into our lives so that God will ultimately get the glory as He saves the day. How could he be the Savior that He is if we did not need Him to save the day? Poverty and suffering come into the life of a disciple because they are tools in the hand of the Father to conform me into the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:29). Another leadership lesson is to be careful about judging why someone is suffering. It could be that they have not sinned, made a wrong choice, or failed to look ahead- it may just be that they suffer so that God will get the glory when he delivers them from their suffering.

These are harsh truths, I know. I find it hard to accept that the world does not revolve around me and that I do not control my environment. I cannot eliminate all the suffering of those around me. If I could eliminate hunger and world suffering, I would do it instantly. I hate seeing people suffer. But I know that God has a purpose for our suffering. It is to make us more like Jesus.

Hebrews 5:8 shows us that there is a purpose to suffering. Ask God to open your eyes to His plans and His ways. Be careful not to sit in the seat of judgment, looking at others’ suffering. God is the only one who sees all and knows all. He alone can judge what is just and unjust.  

How does this change your view of suffering? Of yourself? of others?

5 Comments


Nellie Parker - February 24th, 2023 at 6:47am

I’m glad I am able to read this message today I can personally testify that God will get the glory from your suffering he will take you thru what ever it may be I think of it as being a piece of pottery God molds and makes us like a miss shaped piece that he forms to the shape he wants you to be not what we want to be praise him 🏺

Larry - February 24th, 2023 at 8:06am

Religion is so ugly! How The Lord must be heart broken with my self- Righteouness! Teach and guide my heart Lord!

Emily McCauley - February 24th, 2023 at 8:22am

This is such a great message!!! I think this is the number one issue people struggle with, “why would God let that happen?” It’s definitely hard to see but the closer you get to Jesus, the more you see that everything is for his Glory.

We have no clue, who gets saved when someone is sick or dies. Without sickness, I think there would be a lot less people in heaven. If we just died all the sudden, we would have no choice to surrender. So many people get saved once they get cancer or a disease or sickness. Although at the time it seems awful but it’s all worth it when someone makes it to heaven because of that sickness or even someone else’s death.

We can only pray and ask God to see and think like him and for us will to be done and then things start to make more sense to us.

Emily - February 24th, 2023 at 9:26am

This is such a great chapter! I went to a lecture in Bible school on this passage. The speaker had done quite a bit of study on this text, and he said that verse 3, which we typically translate as “so that the works of God might be displayed in him” would be better translated as “WITH THE RESULT THAT the works of God would be displayed in him”. To me, this is the missing piece of the puzzle and really turns this whole verse around from the way we usually think about it. Without this insight, we feel we have little choice but to infer that God’s relationship to us functions in the same way that a narcissistic or co-dependent parent functions in relation to their family system. We know such relationships on earth do not bring true glory or honor to that parent, just the illusion of it. God does not need to create a situation in which we suffer so he can show his power. Suffering will happen organically. It will happen because we live in a fallen world. If we were still in the garden of Eden, there would be no suffering, and that was God’s orignal intent for us. But I believe that the glory of God is that he IS focused on us. He loves us. He comes into the senseless and chaotic suffering of a broken world and promises “nothing is wasted”, “anything can be redeemed”. I know this has been true in my own life and even just thinking this way has been completely liberating. I never understood why people loved God so much before. Now I feel as though my eyes have been opened 😊

Sally Levi - February 25th, 2023 at 6:55am

This makes me think of Tauren Wells’ song Joy in the Morning. There’s a line that says something like you won’t know if you don’t know. The blind man knew but the Pharisees had no clue. God reveals Himself to us everyday and everything happens for a reason. Once we glorify God and share Him with others we find real joy and a purpose in our life. The blind man now sees the light and has a story to tell. The almighty power of Gods light brings us to peace. Jesus knew that there was a story that could be told by this man and he was right. People saw the difference. Does our light shine to share Jesus with others so they can know what they don’t know?

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