When something bad happens, we might wonder what we did wrong to deserve the difficult circumstance. If faith is important to us, we might bring God into the conversation. If good things happen and our life is going well, we think God is happy with us. If bad things happen and our life isn’t going well, we think God is mad at us.
The Story of a Man Born Blind
This way of thinking has been going on for a long time. I was reading a passage in the Gospel of John (Ch 9), in which Jesus addresses this very thing.
As he [Jesus] 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?”
Jesus’ disciples had the attitude that we often have. They encountered a situation that they thought was bad (i.e., man was born blind) and they automatically assumed someone had sinned. The only question was whether it was the man himself or his parents.
Jesus answers their question, but in a different way than they expected. In fact, he blows up their whole paradigm.
“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.”
Then Jesus heals the blind man.
3 Lessons About Why Bad Things Happen
I think there are 3 lessons we can take away from this story:
- Sometimes bad things just happen. When bad things happen, we want to find an explanation. We want to know why. We might do a ruthless inventory of our lives and past, trying to figure out where we went wrong. Sometimes this isn’t helpful. Sure, it is important to make responsible choices, and it’s not a bad thing to think about how we can make our situation better by changing our choices. But sometimes, bad things like cancer just happen. Trying to come up with an explanation doesn’t get us anywhere.
- Sometimes good things can come out of bad things. In the story, the man was blind (bad thing), but then people got to see Jesus heal the man (good thing). Sometimes bad situations are an opportunity for us to grow in character. Sometimes bad situations help us draw closer to God. Sometimes bad situations can teach us something important about our life or ourselves. Finding the good in the bad doesn’t take away the bad situation. But I think it can help us cope with the bad situation and come out the other side.
- It’s important to help fix bad things. Jesus says it’s his job to do the works that God has for him to do. I think it’s the same way with us. There are a lot of people who are struggling and hurting in this world. We have a responsibility to help. We can’t do everything, but we can do something. What is the area you feel like God is calling you to help? What are your “works?”
What is your reaction when bad things happen? Do you struggle to come up with an explanation or try to “figure it out?” Do you wonder who sinned to cause the bad thing to happen? What lesson from the story of Jesus stood out to you the most?