How Our Personal Tragedies Give God Glory
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. (John 9:2-3, ESV)
I’ve always been the girl that cries at weddings. I even get choked up while watching sappy bridal shows like Say Yes to the Dress. So imagine my elation when I was asked to be a bridesmaid and invited to join a dress appointment for a close family member earlier this year. I’ll keep details short because the wedding is in September, but the moment that she put on the dress she knew she’d get married in, the atmosphere in the room changed. What a precious moment for the women of my family! We laughed, we snapped pictures, and we toasted to the promise of a new life. It was so perfect that it was almost cinematic.
Hard to imagine that a month later, we found out that my cousin’s beautiful bride-to-be was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer that had metastasized to her spine and liver. Sweet and happy wedding tears turned into tears of uncertainty and heartbreak as this devastating news rippled through my family, each one of us reacting in different ways. Some dug their heels into their prayer closets and submitted her name to national prayer chains, sending up the proverbial bat signal on her behalf. Some poured out their love and support in the form of physical gifts that would help her get through chemotherapy and the fight ahead.
I wish I could say not one of us questioned God and why he would do this to our sweet girl, but events such as these have a way of planting those doubts in our minds.
Why would God choose now to do this, when we’re supposed to be planning a wedding?
How could God allow someone so young to go undiagnosed for so long?
What could any of us have possibly done to anger God enough and be put in this situation?
In my desperate time of crying out to the Lord to intervene in my family’s tightly-knit life, I was reminded of the blind man found in John 9. Upon passing a beggar born blind, Jesus’ disciples ask Him whether his condition was a result of the man’s personal sin or the sin of his parents. Jesus, uninterested in pointing fingers, replies that sin had nothing to do with this man’s blindness; this man was born blind so that God’s awe-inducing and perfect glory might be displayed through this man’s healing. Spoiler alert: the man receives his sight from Jesus that very day and becomes a living testimony of Jesus’ power to his community.
So when we question why God would give us something to bear, and you can fill in the blank with whatever feels like a setback for you today, remember it’s not to rob you of your joy. It’s so that after pursuing and petitioning the Lord to intervene, His glory can be displayed in the restoration of your situation. Think about it: the blind man HAD to be blind before he could be a living testimony to Jesus’ goodness and mercy. He had to be brought low. He was a beggar, an outcaste, and marked by his infirmity and his shortcomings. But all that negativity and hardship positioned him to be directly in the Savior’s path. They qualified him to be seen and touched and made an example by Jesus. In the same way, we have to walk through some trials before we can be the breathing “Exhibit A” to the redeeming power of our God.
And to all my cynics out there, my cousin’s precious fiancé went through only one round of chemo before receiving the news that there was no evidence of cancer in her entire body. She went through three months of treatment, and to every medical professional’s bewilderment: she is healed. Praise the Lord! And this didn’t happen in some Biblical era or a faraway land. She is physical proof of the awesome, spectacular, and boundless glory of God that moves for us in the here and now.
So if you’re walking through something dark and twisty this morning, reach out and take hold of this encouragement. The Lord hears you and will come to your rescue, if only you would pursue Him relentlessly and trust Him to be true to His word.