It’s easy to assign blame to the drug companies that manufactured Thalidomide. There is a definitive cause and effect. Liability was clearly assigned and pharmacology changed after that point. Thousands of children suffered from the damaging effects of the chemical compound. But whom or what do we blame when there is no clear cause?

How does suffering and challenge fit into your view of God? The theological questions have been here for millennia. Job reacted strongly to his advisors who assumed the downturn in Job’s life had to be caused by his sinfulness. We see that ancient idea carry forward to Jesus’ time and even still in modernity.

John 9:
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

The rabbis had developed the principle that “there is no death without sin, and there is no suffering without iniquity”. They were even capable of thinking that a child could sin in the womb or that its soul might have sinned in a pre-existent state. They also held that terrible punishments came on certain people because of the sin of their parents.[1]

When Jesus healed a man born blind, we find Him challenging the status quo of neatly packaged answers. He still has a way of rattling the cages of religion and working in mind-bending mysterious ways. Perhaps that has been your story—God intervened in an unmistakable fashion that left others scratching their heads and trying to explain away the change that happened to you.

What if instead of slapping the blamer’s diagnosis on another person’s hardship, we looked for another perspective? Could these puzzling quandaries actually be opportunities for God’s responsiveness to be demonstrated? There is something redemptive and noteworthy when people respond to others with compassion, healing and understanding. There is something deeper than flesh that causes someone to adapt and overcome incredible challenges.

In Jesus there are no conditions or diseases that disqualify one from the love of God. Every weakness and misfortune comes with opportunities to experience deeper love and grace, both as a lover and as the beloved. 

Numerous times, Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would open blind eyes. And now he has come to show the world what God’s Kingdom is like. The blind see, the deaf hear and the lame walk. This man’s blindness was included as part of God’s design; a platform that God’s Love could appear upon.

[1] NIV Study Bible Notes, John 9:2