Monday, August 20, 2007

Who's to Blame?

As he [Jesus] 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. (John 9:1-3)

Last week our ladies' Bible study spent time poring over John 9. In this chapter, Jesus and His followers run across a man who had been blind all his life. The disciples' question about the origin of the man's affirmity was not all that uncommon, as many in that time believed that physical ailments were the results of sin in the afflicted's life, or even that of his or her parents.

While we may think that blaming a birth defect on the sin of the child or his parents is crazy and misguided, don't we sometimes find ourselves doing that? When something goes wrong, isn't it natural for us to start looking for someone to blame, some reason why the something wrong happened?

We start to analyze (and over-analyze) the situation, trying to figure out where things went wrong and what our role was in it and what we could have done to prevent it. I think that one of the most difficult parts of suffering is not necessarily what has happened, but not knowing why it happened. "Why?" is one of the most often-asked questions when we encounter some trial or suffering.

It's easy to try to find someone to blame for what's gone wrong. Often, it's ourselves we blame the most. If only we had been kinder or prettier or wittier, he wouldn't have left. If only we'd worked longer hours, we wouldn't have been passed over for the promotion or let go. If only we'd stood up for ourselves, we wouldn't have been abused or taken advantage of.

That's not to say that some things that happen to us are not the results of our faults and flaws and sins. But that's not always the case. As with the blind man, sometimes bad things are allowed into our lives not to show how bad and sinful we are, but to show how glorious and powerful God is.

In examining the trials that come into my life, I'm trying to see the role that I've played (if any) in them coming about, and to take responsibility for that. But there are some circumstances that are simply a mystery to me. Rather than analyze them to death, I need to release them to God, trusting that He'll show me the ways that this trial is purifying me and making me more like Him, and allowing His glory and power to be shown in it.

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