Prepare – John 9:1–7
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” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.”
We want reasons. We want to know the cause. We want to assign blame, just like the disciples did in this situation. The disciples were asking about the cause of this blindness. Jesus answers their question, but the answer he gives is not about who the blindness came from, but his answer is about what the blindness is leading to. In other words, Jesus was asked about cause, but he answers in terms of purpose. Causes are not the determiner of events, God is.
Wherever the coronavirus came from, whenever it is going to end – God doesn’t work in those kind of categories, according to Jesus. God deals in purposes, and he has a purpose for every event, disease, accident, or anything else.
Jesus states that the purpose is so that the works of God might be displayed. There is more going on in our lives and in this world than what we see at face value. I love the tweet that John Piper had a few years ago – “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life and you may be aware of three of them.”
God has greater purposes. That is an encouraging thought! I don’t say that lightly. We each have been or will be hurt in our lives by some kind of frowning providence. A frowning providence is a difficulty (like blindness) that God provides and uses for a greater purpose than the difficulty itself. Our trust in God and our response to the difficulty will reveal something about us. Pastor William Jenkyn once wrote, “As the wicked are hurt by the best things, so the godly are bettered by the worst.”
God has greater purposes in these difficulties. William Cowper said it well, “Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.” My prayer for myself and for you is that we will not look at the circumstance, but rather keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who controls all circumstances for our good and his glory.
~ Pastor Craig Johnson