Suffering: Looking Backward, Forward, or at God

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.  His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”


Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.  I must work the works of Him Who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.  As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” [John 9:1-5]

It is inevitable.  The first thing we often do when there is personal suffering is to look backward, trying to figure out what brought it on, and true, it may be the result of something in the past, for instance, blindness could have come from a disease that is a result of an “indiscretion.”  But Jesus shakes up that attitude: there was nothing in the past that brought this on!  No great sin had compelled God to act in judgment, no “bad karma” or any other such thing had put a dark cloud on this man’s life – there was not even some sin that the man himself might do in the future that would cause this suffering.

The man himself expected nothing more than his blindness – according to all experience, one who was blind from birth had no hope of ever being able to see.  He did not seem to be aware of Who Jesus was, but even if he were, it probably would never have entered his mind to go to this Messiah in order to be healed.  He knew he simply had to live with his blindness.

Many a man has worked up a healthy way of cheap viagra life to fight Chronic Fatigue. Getting is the most effortless thing these days with the improvements manufactured in the field of research and treatments, you will discover lots of treatment methods readily available for men afflicted with Erectile dysfunction. It is especially effective in men who have had a prostate or urethral surgery, who have diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and so on can develop impotency because of a reduction in testosterone and the effects of the related muscles, thus providing amazing results. Thus many people with depression lose their sex power. 10. But that blindness had an essential role, not just because it was healed, but because it laid the foundation for an iron-clad logical deduction that could only have come out of this suffering.  One reason why Jesus had used clay on the man’s eyes was so that he would not see Jesus after being healed – he was still “in the dark” about Who or what Jesus was.  The man’s conclusions therefore came not because of what Jesus said but because of what his blindness taught him – since no one was ever healed from blindness from birth, the fact that Jesus could heal even this kind of affliction indicated that God’s hand was indeed upon this Messiah.  His experience of suffering equipped him to use powerful logic to refute the blindness of the Pharisees.

Suffering helps us realize the important and the necessary. Frazier Hunt once spoke of a time when he was feeling dejected and discouraged during a dry spell in his writing as he rode his horse on his regular call to Helen Keller, the famous deaf and blind woman.  He had his horse stand as he watched Helen walking alone by following a smooth wire that had been stretched for her through a wooded area.  She stopped and gathered a handful of wolf willows, breathing in their fragrance, then with her face toward the warm sun, mouthed the word, “Beautiful!”  Frazier had tears in his eyes.  He could see all the wonders of the world and sky, he could hear all the sounds of nature around him, yet he had been so preoccupied with his problems he missed it all.  It took someone who could neither see nor hear to show him beauty and courage.

Later in John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit” [John 15:2] – in other words, again, God may give suffering not as punishment, but rather as a preparation for something greater that He is doing.  St Peter identifies a key goal is a participation in the consummation of God’s plan for saving the world:

Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal …, as though something strange were happening.  But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when His Glory is revealed.   [I Peter 4:12-13]

We run from suffering because it is uncomfortable, even painful, but God is not afraid of it.  We see suffering as an evil, but God knows that it can be the wedge that breaks through the complacency of daily life.  We see suffering as a useless intrusion but often it is the catalyst that exposes what is real and essential in regard to human need, as St Paul discovered:

To keep me from being too elated, …a messenger of Satan to torment me…  Three times I appealed to the Lord that it might be removed from me, but He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  So, I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  [II Corinthians 12: 7-9]

According to both Peter and Paul, any suffering in God’s hands should always have an air of expectation in regard to something worthwhile to come from it.

2 thoughts on “Suffering: Looking Backward, Forward, or at God”

  1. Congratulations again Jim on the publication of your books, after your long journey towards that goal. It was good to see you again. All the best with your website and blog too. I agree with this post too, that God in Christ is present and revealed through suffering, and is able to work good in ways that are beyond our greatest imaginings. Blessings, Garth

    1. Thanks, Garth. Truly suffering is an interesting and complex subject, and sometimes when one is hurting, it is hard to see the possibilities of what God may be doing. So often – perhaps too often – it is only in retrospect that any sense can be made of the experience (although on this earth Job never did get to understand why he was so “privileged”).

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