When I don’t understand…

(John 9:1-3, NLT)   As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.

Too often, we want to blame sickness, trials, and hardships on sin.  We see these things as curses…as punishment for sin.  Maybe sometimes our hardships are the results of poor decisions.  We absolutely do bring about negative consequences in our lives because of sin, but we also need to learn to trust God in those times when we sincerely wonder why “bad” things happen to “good” people.

We’ve all wondered it.  We’ve all seen children suffering from different types of cancer.  Many of us have witnessed a loved one become stricken with dementia, and have had to watch the disease slowly dissipate that person whom we love so much.  It is hard to understand.  Yet I can’t help but go back to this account of Jesus and the blind man, because I think it perfectly explains why we sometimes have to endure things that seem unfair.  This man was born blind.  He hadn’t yet had the opportunity to make choices between right and wrong, so it wasn’t some sort of consequence.  He came into life stricken with disability, and I’m sure he often wondered why himself.  Yet in his wondering, God had a purpose that was mapped out from the very start.

You see, everything that happens to us has the possibility to become a victory in our lives and therefore an addition to the great testimony of God’s power and providence in all things.

And what happened to this man who had been without sight all of his life?

10 They asked, “Who healed you? What happened?”

11 He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So I went and washed, and now I can see!”  (John 9: 10-11, NLT)

Healing and miracles come with responsibility, because we then have to transfer that joy and victory to the rest of the world.  That’s the reason for great victories!  Sometimes we are afflicted because we are destined to share something miraculous with others…so that they will believe…so that God gets glorified not only with our words but with our lives!

So when you question “why” remember the blind man.  Remember that our pain has a purpose.  We may not know what it is right now, but we can trust that God is always working for the good of those who love and honor Him.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank You for every aspect of my life…both the good and the bad.  I love You, and I praise You in all circumstances.  When I don’t understand, I still choose to love and honor You.  I trust You.  Amen.

“God of Miracles”

(Mark 16: 14-20, NLT) 14 Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead.

15 And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. 16 Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. 17 These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. 18 They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

19 When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 20 And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.

Miracles, signs, and wonders:  we hear that phrase a lot within the body of Christ.  I have heard it for what seems like my entire life, yet I have to be very frank and admit that I don’t think I’ve seen much in the way of these three phenomena.  Please know, I am not saying that these things don’t exist or take place in our world today.  I know that mighty things do still happen in the name of Christ, for the glory of God.  It’s just that I was reading this passage of scripture and I realized the same thing that I always think when I hear about miraculous signs taking place:  I, personally, am not seeing anything like this happen around me. 

(These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe…)

Have I ever prayed for a miracle?  Yes, I have.  Have I longed to see wonders…things that are utterly inexplicable and awesome?  I sure have.  So what is the missing link?  Why is there this void within the church, and in my own spiritual life?

Looking back at this passage, I tried putting myself in that room when Jesus walked in, risen from the dead, a new and glorious form of Himself.  I imagined being party to His words of rebuke, and how ashamed the discipled must have felt when they realized that not only were they wrong to doubt Jesus, but also that He knew every faithless thought they’d had and He took it to heart.  How disappointed in themselves they must have felt!  Yet even after this chastisement, Jesus still saw fit to entrust His disciples with His Great Commission.

If you’ve ever let someone down, and I’m guessing you definitely have, then you know how exciting it is when that person still finds it in his/her heart to trust you.  It stirs you to try harder.  Being given a second chance is one of the most inspiring things that can happen to us…because we know we can do better, and we are determined not to make that same mistake twice! 

Well what does that have to do with miraculous signs??  My point is that the disciples were chastised, then commissioned.  They were excited!  Jesus ascended to Heaven, and they went about God’s business.  They weren’t distracted by their lives and the petty successes of the world.  They didn’t stop to think and consider every single thing.  They moved and acted by the leading of the Holy Spirit, and never once did God disappoint. 

I have always believed that miracles happen for the purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission, as confirmation of God’s word.  I think sometimes we get distracted and start to think it’s all about us and the betterment of our physical lives.  We want healing because we don’t want to suffer or to see our loved ones suffer.  But doesn’t the Bible tell us, “In the world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33)?  We want to see signs and wonders because we are so accustomed to being entertained and “wowed” by our environments, that when we are not being entertained within our spiritual lives it seems almost lackluster to us.  You may not like to read that, but it’s the truth. 

We have it all wrong…and most all of us are guilty.  WE are the missing links.  It is our own selfishness that is keeping us from seeing the manifest power and Glory of God in our lives.  We have lost our excitement about doing our jobs!

Friends, it is time to reconstruct our priorities, time to reevaluate our spirits, and time to recommit our lives to His purpose and plan.  There is no better time.  This world is not going to get better.  Time is running out.  We desperately need miraculous signs to begin to take place in our circles of influence, but we have to shed the selfishness or it just won’t happen.  Or…we can just continue on as is…doing the things we always do…going through the systems and motions of our lives… 

Personally, I’m sick of that.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, we have all been given second chances, by and through Your loving kindness and Your grace.  Help us restore the excitement of being forgiven and trusted!  Help us cast down every crown and every selfish motivation at Your feet, so that the world can once again see Your power and glory, bringing the lost into Your arms.  Amen.

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