By Dr. John A. Temple
The Meridian Star
“And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?’” — John 9:1-2
Many years ago, I had an earthshaking experience that taught me a great spiritual lesson. When Shawn, our first son, was born, it was questionable if he would live. For nineteen days we lived in NICU. Over the next six months we learned that Shawn would be severely and permanently affected with Cerebral Palsy.
My first question was, “Why, God, are you doing this to us?” A second question was, “What did we do to deserve this?” Before Shawn was born, we had dedicated our firstborn to the Lord, wanting him to do something special for the kingdom of God. I could not see how someone that will spend his entire life in a wheelchair, at the mercy of others to meet all needs, would do anything special.
As I struggled with the question, a secretary in our office, Lillian Carte, gave me a scripture to read, John 9:1-2. It was this scripture about a blind man. I had read it many times. Yet, this reading would have a lasting impact on my life.
When Jesus and the disciples see a blind man, they have different outlooks. The disciples assume that bad things happen to those who deserve it. Their question was, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind.” This kind of question works from the assumption that everything has a cause and an effect. If something bad happens to us, we deserve it. This is a wicked and warped principle that causes much anguish and grief. How are parents that lose an unborn infant to face their tragedy? Can we assume everyone killed in an accident deserved it? How do we justify parents of a six month old, my son, being told; “your son will never walk; your son may never talk; what you see now is all you may ever have”?
Jesus had a different outlook on the blind man. He said, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents, but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Jesus saw this man, not for his problem, but for his potential and proceeded to give him sight. The fact is that no one in the Bible ever has a miracle that doesn’t first have a need. As this story in the Bible unfolds, the blind man will do more to point to Jesus that day than anyone else.
Now, I celebrate release from tragic circumstances. However, the main point is the effect of Jesus’ work through his malady. The power of Christ was reflected through his weakness in ways it would never have been in a person with no problems.
After thirty-two years, I have seen that God honored our prayer for our first born to be someone who brought glory to Him. Shawn is an inspiration to many who meet him in church and functions as my “straight man” on all my jokes and illustrations in sermons. His smile is contagious. His attitude is always upbeat. His example is an invitation for many who face challenges of their own to listen to our pilgrimage and accept our advice.
I no longer try to find blame for every tragedy. Instead I try to find God’s use of difficult situations. I know that He can bring purpose and strength for any challenge if I stop looking for blame and try to find what Jesus wants to do with the dilemma. Once I moved beyond the feeling of guilt, I was able to move beyond the grief. Today, I celebrate my son who allows God’s presence to be seen through his challenge.
Dr. John A. Temple is pastor of Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church, located at 4032 Poplar Springs Drive in Meridian. Visit the church website online at www. psdbc.org.