the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
Many non-Believers say they reject Christianity because the God of the Bible is unfair. They claim he is harsh and uncaring - even cruel. After all, if God is good, why do bad things happen? If God controls all things, why should anyone be born blind - or crippled or mentally handicapped? Their murmuring betrays a hubris eager to make God subservient to man.
When Jesus trod this earth he encountered throngs of needy people wherever he went. Nonetheless, not everyone who was burdened with a physical or spiritual malady found relief at the Lord's hand. We know this from the witness of Scripture itself. For instance, Peter and John encountered a certain man lame from his mother's womb who was carried daily to the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered (Acts 3:2). No doubt Jesus had passed this man many times as he entered the temple, but he did not heal him. That event was reserved for another time - a time of God's choosing.
You see, God is in charge of one's infirmity just as he decides if and when a person will be healed. When I say God is in charge of the infirmity I mean he makes use of hardship as he sees fit, often to shape the character of the individual bearing the burden. For instance, Jesus once healed a man born blind. From our perspective it is a shame the poor fellow had wasted his whole life as a blind beggar. Yes, we're glad Jesus healed him – but wouldn't it have been better if he had been blessed with sight all his life? Why was he blind in the first place? Jesus answered that question, saying the man's blindness was so the works of God should be revealed in him (John 9:3). The work of God was revealed in the granting of sight and in the events immediately following.
If you read the account of the man born blind (John 9:1-41), you will find that after he received his sight, he was hauled before the religious leaders to explain himself. The Jews were out to get Jesus and they thought they might besmirch the character of the Nazarene by browbeating the unsophisticated (formerly) blind man into saying something negative about his healer. To their surprise, the blind beggar turned out to be more than a match for the greatest minds of the day. How could this be? The man had spent his entire adult life sans sight, begging in the streets of Jerusalem. Well, that is the reason he was prepared to lock horns with the Pharisees. God used the burden of blindness to prepare the man for his encounter with the Jewish leaders. He could not see but he could listen. He cold not defend himself physically but he could counter abuse with courage and a quick wit. Without the distraction of bustling Jerusalem before his eyes he was better able to meditate upon the things he had learned in his youth and picked up as a devoted listener in manhood. Then, with the weight of blindness removed, he found he was able to keep pace with the best, even under the most difficult of circumstances.
It is preposterous to suggest God is unfair because of sickness and sorrow in this life. It assumes a level of discernment man does not possess. Moreover it is a denial that, all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Reader, I encourage you to embrace your burden.
Next week: Burden, Blessing and Opportunity.