Let us pray: Dear Savior, whenever some natural disaster, or an illness, or some misfortune comes upon us, we always wonder: why me? Today we ask that you replace that question with faith, truth, and love. Remind us that You always turn evil into good. And by dwelling on the good we’ll pick ourselves up and declare Your praises all the more. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE FULFILLER OF ALL GOODNESS
TEXT: John 9: 1-7, 13-17, 34-39
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
My mother’s house was built in 1939. My parents moved into it in 1975. To my knowledge it never had water in the basement before they moved in. Likewise, water issues were never a problem for the first 20 odd years they lived there. And then one Spring, mother called to tell me she had a little bit of water in the basement. It didn’t cause any damage, but it was disconcerting. She’s had a couple of other bouts with water seeping in over the last 10 years, too. One of them necessitated her staying up for 2 nights to run the wet vac and the mop. She was exhausted. There are few things in life that make you feel as helpless as water coming into your house. I know, as I’ve experienced it. This winter they had a record snowpack in Minnesota. Last month I told mother: “You need to have the plumber put a sump pump in the basement. You’ve got time now, so you’d better move on it. You’ll be 86 next month, and you cannot take care of it on your own.” Well, she said: “I’ll pray that it doesn’t happen.” On Wednesday, this past week they got an inch plus of rain followed by 13 inches of cement-like snow. Lo and behold, she had some seepage. Again, she was up every 2 hours monitoring it. When I talked to her on Thursday morning, she sounded exhausted and discouraged. Basically, I read my mother the riot act and told her: “You’ve got cold weather coming for the next week with no rain or snow. So, call the plumber today and get that sump in, now!” She hemmed and hawed and said: “I’ve prayed about it.” I responded: “Yes, God answers prayer and then expects us to act accordingly! He’s given you a preview of what’s to come, so act!” I called back later that day. I was amazed! The plumber was there, the jackhammer had already blasted the pit out, and by nightfall, the pump was working! “See,” I told her, “The Lord has answered your prayer!” So, instead of dwelling on “Why me?” and feeling sorry for herself, she used her Godly good sense and something very bad was turned into something very good.—She slept peacefully.
Today, as we look at this lesson from John, it really begs the recurring question of life that haunts all of us, which is:
This fellow that Christ met in Jerusalem was blind from birth. That meant he was a beggar and had a very hard life. No doubt, he asked himself numerous times: “Why me? Why did this have to happen to me?” We do the same. “Why did that freak accident happen to me? Why did I get cancer? Why did I lose my job? Why haven’t I met anyone who I clicked with and am still single? Why did that college reject my application?” Everyone one of those questions is legitimate. But every one of them is based on self-pity. Likewise, every one of them is also a questioning of God’s goodness towards us, whether we say it, or not.
Christ’s disciples thought they knew the answer as to why this man was born blind. “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Notice how they immediately jump to conclusions—conclusions grounded in the idea of a judgmental God Who doles out retribution in life for personal human sin. In essence, they attempt to read hearts. They think that all the bad stuff that comes our way is our fault and that God is behind the results that we experience. In this, they are really making God the Author and Source of the evil that befalls us. Well, based on the miracles and teachings of love that Christ had shown them, they should have known otherwise. Their focus was on the Law, not the Gospel.
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but his 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.'”
In the big picture of God’s providential care over all creation, He never causes evil, instead He sets limits to it. And He then uses evil, thereby sticking His finger in Satan’s eye, by turning it around for good. This existence is darkness. But Christ is light. And the work of light is to dispel the murkiness of darkness, or to take away those “Why Me?” questions and the faith-destroying self-pity they foster.
You know the rest of the story. Jesus spits on some dirt, rolls it around in His fingers, paints it over the man’s eyes, and then tells him to go and wash it away in the Pool of Siloam. “So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.” He acted on Christ’s word. He obeyed, and a miracle was wrought. Obviously word of this amazing miracle got around. His friends wanted the Pharisees, those models of external religiosity to know about it. They brought the man to them. Because Jesus had done this miracle on the Sabbath, when the Pharisees thought all work was forbidden, they chastised both Jesus and this man for engaging in the work of healing his sight. Others thought that was going too far. So they were divided among their opinions. Finally, they asked the man about Jesus. He told them: “He is a prophet.” Then they got on their high horse and belittled him for knowing nothing and threw him out.
Jesus heard about all this, sought the fellow out and asked a simple question: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”—In short, do you believe in the promised Messiah, true Man and true God Who was promised to come and save people’s souls? Well, the man didn’t know much about this, so he says: “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Then Christ gives this reply: “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking to you.’ Then the man said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him. Jesus said, ‘For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.'” Or, My purpose is to bring goodness, but the result of not seeing that fact and believing is ultimately judgment.
So, exactly what can we learn from our many “Why Me?” questions? We should learn to listen to Christ. We should learn not to sit on our hands and expect Godly help by dithering. We should learn that by believing and acting upon God’s words of guidance—think of both the commandments and the promised gifts of the Spirit—only goodness and blessings will come our way, even if we don’t always recognize it as so at the time. We should learn that Christ is God’s eternal Son Who has come to show, offer, and extend His healing hand to each of us. We should learn that His heart’s love extends to every single “little guy” in need. We should learn not to look the gift horse of His love and forgiveness in the mouth and then walk away from it like the Pharisees. We should learn that when people do that, the hard hand of judgment will swat down rather hard. And perhaps most of all, we should learn that God’s grace will transform the self-pitying “Why Me?” into the positive and uplifted: “Yes, ME!” “Lord, I believe, help Thou mine unbelief!” Amen