Who is that Blind Man?

I was reading in the book of John last week and came across the story that most of us know well. The one where Jesus comes across the Blind Man, and is asked whether it was the man who did something wrong, or his family, that caused his blindness. Jesus uses this occasion to share that people are NOT afflicted because of something they (or their families) did wrong, but rather his healing is to bear witness to the miracles of Jesus and to the power of God. I am paraphrasing, but that is what I have gotten out of the story every time I have read it- except for this time.

This time when I read it, I got to thinking about this man. He was born blind- and through his whole life he was living with this major affliction, why? So that we – all of the generations from that point forward- would be able to understand this miracle of Jesus, and also to understand that people ARE sometimes afflicted for the benefit of the people around them, to learn to know and love Jesus. Our afflictions are not to punish us, but they can be of service to the world. It feels like a huge burden, however it is also a tremendous opportunity.

Many years ago, I met a woman when I was pregnant for my second child. She was lived across the street from me, and I had just moved into the neighborhood with my husband and toddler. The day after I met her, my baby was born- prematurely and via C-section- and died shortly after he was born. As anyone who has experienced this knows, it is a deep grief. My neighbor heard about this and came to my house to offer to be there for me. She was the mother of two children that I had met – but what I didn’t know was that her first baby had also died a few days after birth. She understood my pain. I eagerly took her up on her offer to talk and to listen. She did more to help me heal through that process than almost anyone. Whats more- she was a Christian and I was not. She introduced me to Jesus, and that was a tremendous step forward in my faith journey.

My friend was the Blind Man to me. She suffered something that I would wish on no one- but through her suffering I came to know Jesus. The question for me is, how have I been able to use the suffering that I have experienced to be the Blind Man for someone else? If we could all take our suffering and turn it into something beautiful by not only helping to relieve someone’s earthly pain, but also to help them on their journey to salvation, what a gift that could be!

One thought on “Who is that Blind Man?

  1. God is all good, but for God to be merciful there must be misery. Misery and mercy are intertwined. If there is no misery, there is no need for mercy. God takes what is bad (Satan, Sin etc.) and the misery that results and ultimately uses them for the good thru his unending mercy. Suffering is a good example of this, by Jesus’s suffering he procured our ultimate good. It is through the trust placed in God, even with suffering and misery that our faith blossoms. The more we experience the mercy of God and the Love it expresses the more we are compelled to Love God ourselves. The expression “No pain, no gain” rings true even in the spiritual life! It is due to our misery that God can express his love by extending to us his mercy.

    Romans 5:3-5 “And not only that, but we[d] also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

    God does not cause misery or suffering. Misery was self-inflicted by both the down-fall of Satan and his demons and by us due to our choice at the Garden of Eden (and continued poor choices as well). Allowing misery and suffering was a choice decided by Adam by rejecting all that was good (God) through sin, as an act of pride to be like God (knowledge of good and evil). We knew “good” in the Garden of Eden, and when we sinned, we got to know evil, and it brought us misery and suffering.

    Our suffering even caused (and causes) God to suffer misery, and because of his perfect Love he is compelled to be merciful to us. God wants to lavish his unending mercy upon us! As an example, Jesus himself suffered (and suffers) the miseries of human life for us. Jesus became the most miserable person in all of time through his horrible and unjust passion and death, suffering at the very hands of his own creatures whom he created and loves, and from that misery sprang the greatest of all mercies, the means of our salvation.

    We are created in the image and likeness of God. As mentioned above our original sin was based on the desire to be like God in the knowledge of good and evil, and now we know evil, and from it we experience suffering and misery. When we suffer well, and offer our misery and suffering to God, and in union with God’s own suffering we live in imitation and union with God. Our suffering and misery offered to and united with Gods is a conduit of his unfailing mercy. We can in a sense be like God, not just in knowing good and evil, but by extending mercy to those who are miserable and who suffer. What decent parent does not suffer for the love of their children? Who wouldn’t gladly take upon themselves their hurts and miseries of their children as an act of mercy if they could? This is what God our Father does for the love he has for us. Misery is ultimately conquered by mercy by accepting and imitating the goodness and love of God. We can be like God by extending our mercy to others, or we can be like Satan by causing suffering and misery in the world. Mercy only needs to exist due to suffering and misery, since we are the cause of that by our choice to sin, let us at least offer what mercy we can as a recompense.

    Pope Saint John Paul II, stated in Evangelium vitae (no. 67):

    “. . . recognizing that suffering, while still an evil and a trial in itself, can always become a source of good. It becomes such if it is experienced for love and with love through sharing, by God’s gracious gift and one’s own personal and free choice, in the suffering of Christ Crucified. In this way, the person who lives his suffering in the Lord grows more fully conformed to him (cf. Phil 3:10; 1 Pet 2:21).“

    Liked by 1 person

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