Another selection from the HRC:
While Jesus was walking, he saw a man who had been blind since the time he was born. Jesus’ followers asked him, “Teacher, why was this man born blind? Whose sin made it happen? Was it his own sin or that of his parents?” Jesus answered, “It was not any sin of this man or his parents that caused him to be blind. He was born blind so that he could be used to show what great things God can do. – John 9:1-3
The ninth chapter of John is full of hard-hitting lessons, and I encourage you to read it. For this meditation, I’d like to focus on this particular story. A lot of people have the idea that suffering is caused by an individual’s misdeeds. We want to know why bad things happen. Many of us tend to blame the victim. We spend a lot of time and emotional energy trying to figure out what people did to bring illness or pain on themselves or who is to blame. Some charlatans exploit this way of thinking by blaming natural disasters and epidemics on the “evils” of one group of people or the other. In truth, there is often no answer to why bad things happen.
Jesus teaches us that wondering who sinned when we see suffering is not the point, not the right response. The Christian response is to reach out in love to the afflicted and show God’s love and glory with a healing touch. We may not be able to restore sight to the blind in the literal sense, but we can open the eyes of those in pain and those around them to how God works in the world. And God works through us, as Jesus taught us. God works through us when we are accepting, empathic, and loving enough to our neighbors to touch them, to care for them and to share with them.
We are blessed in our ministries to others. There is no better feeling than to give of yourself to another human being. When we seek to heal others, we ourselves are healed. The feeling is both humbling and empowering, especially when we understand we are acting as Jesus’s disciples in sharing His love.
So when we see suffering, the question is not “Who’s fault is it?” but “How can I show God’s glory in service to the afflicted?”
The Rev. Dr. Susan Hrostowski