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Tuesday, January 17, 2023

By Larissa Lee, Host Team Lead

As Jesus passed by, He saw a man who had been blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must carry out the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day…” – John 9:1-4


Human beings like reasons for things. Reasons make life tidy. In fact, we like reasons so much that we will actually ignore certain information in order to form patterns out of an otherwise random set of data. This need for reasons was part of what drove the assumption the disciples had that, when bad stuff happens, someone must have done something wrong to deserve it. And our search for reasons can lead us to some erroneous conclusions.

Don’t get me wrong, I like reasons as well, and I’ve spent a lot of time asking, “Why?” My son was born with a rare genetic disorder that causes issues like global developmental delays, a sensory processing disorder, autism, one functioning kidney, and a small trachea that can turn a common cold into a severe breathing problem.

As a mom, I’ve wrestled within myself. I’ve also listened to others talk about what they think is God’s purpose in this. There has to be a reason, right? But as far as I can tell, there isn’t. It’s a genetic mutation. It’s just a hard, broken, random part of life…like a man being born blind.

Now, at a glance in the text it can look like Jesus does give a reason, but we must read carefully. In English, we read, “he was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed.” It makes it seem like God made this man blind so that later he could heal him. That would be kind of a jerk move. But God isn’t a jerk, so that can’t be the correct understanding.

The original language used here is much closer to, “he was born blind but let the works of God be displayed.(1) Basically, Jesus says, “This wasn’t God’s plan; he didn’t want it or cause it but he can use it for good.” Jesus is opposed to the idea that this situation happened because of anyone’s choice, and he tells us that the important thing is not WHY it happened but HOW we respond. Jesus invites us to respond by joining him in carrying out God’s work as he confronts our world’s brokenness with compassion and healing.

The bad stuff in life is not part of God’s plan, nor is it something we deserve, but God is always at work planting gardens of life in the valleys of death. And we have an opportunity in this world to join him in getting down in the dirt — the painful, unfair, messy stuff of life – and doing the work of compassion and healing.

  1. Boyd, Gregory A. God at War: The Bible & Spiritual Conflict. Intervarsity Press, 1997

“Father, help me to trust that you are always working for good, even in the things in life that don’t seem to have any reason. Fill me with compassion so that I can join you in bringing healing to the world around me. Amen.”

I read this devotional

Now You Try

John 9


Get to a place where you can focus and read the daily Scripture passage several times. From the passage of Scripture you read, highlight one or two verses that stick out. Write them down, and even consider rewriting the verse(s) in your own words.


Make some basic observations about the scripture you just read by asking these questions:

  • Why was this written?
  • To whom was it originally written?
  • What is the author trying to communicate?
  • What does the Scripture passage teach me about God and humanity?


After taking some time explaining the highlighted scriptures, begin to think about how they apply to your life. Ask yourself these questions and spend some time writing down your thoughts:

  • What do these verses mean today?
  • What does this verse(s) mean for my life?
  • How does this verse challenge my thinking and actions?
  • What changes do I need to make in my life as a result of this passage of Scripture?


Your response to the passage may take on many forms. You may write a call to action. You may describe how you will be different because of what God has said to you through the Bible verses. You may indicate what you are going to do because of what you learned. You may respond by writing out a prayer to God. For example, you may ask God to help you to be more loving, or to give you a desire to be more generous in your giving. Keep in mind that this is your response to what you have just read.

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