When Bad Things Happen
When Bad Things Happen
Words of Faith 11-15-16
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2016
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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As he 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.  As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.  While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
Why do bad things happen? And how do we respond when they do?
As Jesus went along, the disciples had an opportunity to ask the first question when they came upon a man born blind. It was generally thought that all afflictions came as a punishment or consequence from God for sin.
But what about a person born with an affliction? The issue was a point of debate among rabbis. “Who sinned this man or his parents that he was born blind?”
Some rabbis reasoned that it was the sin of the parents or grandparents that caused a birth defect. This was based on Exodus 34:7 which says that God punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation. Other rabbis reasoned that it was possible for a person to actually sin in the womb and cause such an affliction.
The disciples sort of missed the fact that they were talking about a real person with real suffering. They just wanted to know which side Jesus took on this debate.
Jesus broke with both sides of the argument and proposed a third possibility. "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” Some things happen simply so that God may be glorified.
He went on to say, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world." The point of some affliction is so that the light of the world may shine through that circumstance.
Even more important than Jesus’ explanation was the action that He was about to take. Jesus did not view the blind man as a theological curiosity to debate. He was a person. He saw the pain. He saw the response of God. He had compassion for this man and was preparing to act even as they spoke.
It is sad but religious people are often much more fond of theological debate than they are of compassionate action. Theologians often debate the perplexing enigmas of life rather than acting with mercy. The disciples were no exception.
Jesus shows us a profound truth. He shows us that while all suffering is a consequence of the fall of Adam and Eve-- a part of our fallen condition-- it is not necessarily a consequence of our own sin.
Some affliction is indeed the consequence of our personal rebellion but there also is affliction that has been allowed in our lives solely for the purpose of displaying the work of God. This is important because we often beat ourselves up trying to figure out how we messed up when God really just wants to display His power and light in us!
Jesus also shows us a profound response. He shows us that debating over the misery of a man in darkness does not reflect the compassion of God. We are called to seek God for the way that His Light might be displayed in a particular situation. God may desire to manifest a dramatic healing. He also may desire to manifest sustaining strength that carries us through a life with an affliction.
Paul wrote of this truth in his letter to the church at Rome. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:28-29).
The goal of any suffering or affliction is that we would be conformed to the likeness of His Son, Jesus.
Lord, help me to see with Your eyes. Help me to discover the ways that You desire to display your work in my life. Conform me to Your image. Give me faith to trust Your judgments and plans. Give me mercy to respond to suffering in ways that reflect Your love and character. In Jesus’ name.
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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2002, 2016
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.