Have you ever wondered how God and pain/suffering intersect?
John chapter 9 records an intersting exchange between Jesus and his disciples:
“1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” [TNIV]
At first glance, we want to come down pretty hard on the disciples. I mean, instead of trying to help the poor guy, they turn him into a theological debate!
But, when you understand that this is how they had been taught their entire lives, that when bad things happen to you they were probably triggered by some sin that you or your parents committed, you can begin to give them a break.
Their view of the world was simple: cause and effect. When you sin, it will come back to bite you in some real, physical, tangible way. Does this sound familiar?
For many of us, the only way that God and our suffering and pain intersect is because we believe that God made it happen as some sort of divine pay back…as if, when we blow it, God is shaking his finger at us saying, “I’ll get you my pretty…and your little dog too!”
How many of us see life and pain and suffering through this lens? How many times do we look for the why? Why did this happen? If I’d only…If they’d only…How could this happen?
Those are honest emotions and questions, and if you notice, Jesus doesn’t fault his disciples for asking a question. Jesus goal is to give them a greater question to ask. For Jesus life is not a cause and effect scenerio. For Jesus, life is about grace. That’s why he redirects his disciples question, because there is a better question to ask. What is God up to here? If the pain is bad, then the grace must be greater.
Over and over again in the New Testament, the writers remind us of a God who meets us in our weakness and frailty, who gives us the grace to stand under unbearable weights.
” In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness…”
“For when I am weak, then I am strong…”
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”
Again and again, the writers of scripture call us back to grace.
God may seem quiet, even silent, but he is not absent. He is actually more present than we could even imagine. And the intersection, the place where God meets our pain, is grace.
Which way do you see the world? Cause and effect or grace?