Had he known, would it have made it any easier to endure? If his parents had seen the plan for their son’s life, would it have lessened the extra weight of caring for a child without sight or helped to release their grip on the hopes and aspirations they may have had for him? Had they been told that eventually there would be an encounter of the divine kind, would it have been worth it all?
As [Jesus] passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
(John 9:1-3 ESV)
Kind of a weird question from the disciples. Almost karma like. That somehow there must be some spiritual cause-and-effect dynamic at play if a man is born blind. That either God knew he would do something later in life that warranted advance punishment, or that his parents were getting a cosmic slap on the wrist they must have deserved for something. But you can’t really judge the disciples too harshly. Who hasn’t known the propensity to ask “why” when seemingly unfair stuff happens?
But Jesus replies, “Neither.” It’s not that he was saying the man or his parents were without sin, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Instead, He said that there was no transcendent correlation between their iniquity and the man’s inability to see. Rather, his blindness was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. That the Light of the world might be manifest through his darkness (9:4-5). That divine power might be made known through difficult circumstances.
So . . . if, when their son was born, the man’s parents had been told by an angel that God would eventually touch his eyes and give him sight, would it have made it any easier? If the man born blind had heard a voice from heaven when he was young telling Him that one day He would physically feel the touch of God and come away seeing, would it have been worth it all? What’s the price one’s willing to pay in order to come face-to-face with Deity . . . even Deity you can’t see?
Who wouldn’t want to experience God? To hear His voice? To feel His presence? To know His touch? To come away fundamentally rewired and changed? But what if it means some darkness before the light. Valleys before the mountain tops? Testing before tasting and seeing that He is good? What are we willing to endure in order that the works of God might be displayed in us?
Paul’s words come to mind :
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2Corinthians 12:8-10 ESV)
Yeah, I think had they known, it might have been easier. To live in the expectation that, one day, the power of Christ would rest upon their son, would have put their current sorrow in the context of a sure promise and a future hope. To go through each dark day believing the revelation that he would soon behold marvelous light, would have helped the man born blind to keep on keepin’ on.
. . . for we walk by faith, not by sight. (2Corinthians 5:7 ESV)
So that the works of God might be displayed in us.
By His grace. For His glory.