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  • Writer's pictureChuck Garriott

How to View the Problem

Seeking God in Times of Discomfort


This is the fifth devotional in our summer series on "The Miraculous Acts of God."


"As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’  Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.’ So he went and washed and came back seeing.” – John 9:1-7


Occasionally I trim my own hair. I stand in front of a mirror and with scissors in one hand and a comb in the other I remove the unwanted growth. It is rather awkward and tricky skill to properly judge the placement of the hand relative to the comb, scissors, and hair.


In the process one day, the razor-sharp scissors accidentally sliced the edge of my nose causing it to profusely bleed. The laceration was deep and clearly needed a trip to the emergency room of the nearby hospital. To make matters worse, my unwanted injury would cause me to miss an important international flight that had been planned for months. I was so irritated at myself and embarrassed. My objective to save time and money by cutting my own hair was not working.


While en route and sitting in the emergency room, knowing I would miss the flight, my mind was flooded with thoughts and questions of my unwanted circumstances. 


Why was I so clumsy? How stupid of me to trim my own hair. And, what was God teaching me? Yes, I prayed. I asked God, why were my present conditions necessary? Am I being punished for my sin? Many engage in the same line of thinking. The Gospel of John informs us that the Lord’s disciples had similar thoughts.


We are told in John 9 that when the disciples saw a man born blind, they asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  


You hear the question: who is to blame? Now to be fair, their line of thinking was not without reason. There are many places in the Scriptures that remind us that God brings judgment upon his people because of their sin, disobedience. 


King Uzziah of Judah was cursed with leprosy because of his sin of pride (2 Chronicles 26). Often the disobedience of the children of Israel brought God’s judgment. Moses did not enter the promise land because of his sin. 


Yes, the disciples' question makes sense. Yet on this occasion Jesus wants to make it clear that there are exceptions. This man’s blindness had nothing to do with his sin. Yet, there was a purpose. He was not born blind because of his nor his parents’ sin. His suffering was for the purpose of spotlighting the work of God.


Suffering comes in many ways. For the blind man and his parents, it was the absence of sight. In some cases people suffer with cancer, or other physical diseases. There are times of emotional suffering. The loss of a loved one or failed and dysfunctional relationship with someone whom you care and love. 


The loss of a job or life failure will bring a form of pain and suffering. Suffering and pain is exhausting and seems unending. Having some appreciation and understanding for pain is important.


The late Tim Keller said this in regards to suffering in his book Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering:


“According to Christian theology, suffering is not meaningless—neither in general nor in particular instances….So suffering is at the heart of the Christian faith. It is not only the way Christ became like and redeemed us, but it is one of the main ways we become like him and experience his redemption.” 


Hebrews 12 reminds us that the discomfort is for our good. To focus life on God, his work, and his glory is no small thing. We may differ with the means that God uses. Yet the Bible informs us that our sovereign God is always present and never fails us. 


If nothing else, in our pain we reach out to God in prayer. This is worth so much. Our savior who suffered for us knows well what we may experience. He hears us as a high priest who cares for us. My hope is that regardless of the occasion, seek him in your time of need. He will be present.


Chuck Garriott is the Executive Director of Ministry to State

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