One blustery winter’s morning in Colorado, an atheist revealed to me a long forgotten Biblical truth.
This atheist was a kind man and exceptionally clever; he was also a close friend. He had just expressed sympathy for a chronic illness I was experiencing, when a thought struck him.
“If there is a God, then why are you sick?”
As if embarrassed he had asked the question, he added half-jokingly. “It’s the work of that pesky devil, isn’t it?”
Immediately, I was reminded of a question asked thousands of years before: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Jesus’ disciples had asked him this question upon seeing a man who had been born blind. Just like my friend, they had been trying to reconcile the existence of a loving, caring God with the suffering they saw in the world.
This man had not been blinded by an enemy. He had not been blinded by neglecting his health. This man had been blinded by God. How could a loving God arbitrarily blind a man?
The disciples (and my friend) had concluded that someone must have sinned to incur this fate.
But Jesus said, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
Suffering is an integral aspect of the Christian life. The Bible does not promise us earthly prosperity; it promises us earthly persecution. We suffer so that the works of God might be displayed through us. Of course, God does not desire our suffering, but he does allow us to suffer.
My illness, I realized, was not given to me by Satan, or by the world, but by God himself.
This week, Greg Mussleman of VOM Canada reminds us of this forgotten Biblical truth:
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