By Alan Ahlgrim
Everyone suffers; sometimes we even bring it on ourselves. When we eat or drink too much or live for too long on fast-forward, we usually pay a price. There is an undeniable link between sin and suffering. However, sometimes our sickness isn’t rooted in our personal sin, or even in our stupidity, but in God’s sovereignty.
Suffering on Purpose
In John 9 we learn about a man who was blind from birth. His limitation became the Lord’s teaching opportunity. When Jesus was asked whose sin was responsible for this problem, Jesus was able to correct a common misunderstanding. In that culture sickness was typically attributed to sin. Jesus made the shocking statement that this man’s blindness was for a higher purpose. God’s power was about to be put on open display!
Jesus Can Use Anything
As a minister I’m privileged to know many who suffer with dignity and even with gratitude. Some tell me that they wouldn’t trade their difficulty because it brought them to a deeper relationship with God than ever before. The wife of one of my associates just said that. Even though she lives with chronic pain, it has led to a more intimate connection with Jesus.
Suffering can make a person more substantial. There is a special kind of credibility that shines through those who are personally acquainted with intense difficulty. Physical problems sometimes lead to deep maturity and undeniable spiritual blessing.
While some people do receive the gift of healing, far more seem to receive a gift of another kind. The man born blind was healed of his blindness but the greater gift was a restoration of true vision. He was able to see life from God’s point of view.
Jesus Is in the Vision Business
After his encounter with Jesus, the man experienced a double miracle. His healing was both physical and spiritual. It wasn’t just with the eyes in his head that he saw, but with the eyes of his heart.
Helen Keller spent a lifetime in blindness, but she once observed that worse still is to be able to see and have no vision. The greatest gift is seeing life from God’s point of view.
Alan Ahlgrim is the lead minister at Rocky Mountain Christian Church in Longmont, Colorado.