ODJ: who sinned?

August 7, 2014 

READ: John 9:1-7 

“Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” (v.2).

God has told me why your skin cancer hasn’t been healed,” the woman said to my friend. Really? he thought. Having suffered through two failed operations to remove the cancer from his face, my friend was desperate for a reason why. “God has told me it’s one of three things,” she continued. One of three? my friend thought. Even God doesn’t know for sure? “It’s either a generational curse passed down from your parents . . . ” It’s my parent’s fault? “Or it’s a secret sin in your life . . .” Which one? (My friend can be cheeky.) “Or you lack the faith to be healed.”

Though well meaning, this woman probably never realised how much she sounded like the Jews of Jesus’ day. For them, there was no suffering without sin. Some thought that a child could sin in the womb, and that punishment could come because of a parent’s sins. While recognising that sin can bring illness (Luke 5:18-26), Jesus dismissed such blanket explanations of suffering. Referring to a tower that fell in Siloam, He made it clear that the 18 victims were no more sinful than anyone else (13:4-5). When asked if a man born blind was suffering for his own sins or his parents’, Jesus said it was neither (John 9:1-3). Instead, the man’s blindness would display God’s power (vv.3,6-7).

“Do you think there’s a fourth possibility for my cancer?” my friend asked the woman. “What?” she said. “That I didn’t wear my hat enough in the sun when I was younger?”

In a broken world, towers fall, people are born blind and the sun burns hotter than our skin can handle. And listening to the wisdom that flowed from my friend as he shared what he had learned through suffering, I saw God’s power at work in his weakness. —Sheridan Voysey

365-day plan› Luke 12:49-59

Read 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 and consider what Paul learned as he experienced a persistent condition that caused him to suffer.
When calamity strikes, do you automatically assume it’s because of someone’s sin? What happens when we ‘overspiritualise’ pain?