Good suffering sounds like jumbo shrimp and a whole lot of other oxymorons. In working through suffering for a message last weekend, I had my own irritations with AC out to real suffering, death of a family friend.
Suffering never seems good. We often want to know why. That’s the question we looked at in church this weekend, and not easy to say. God doesn’t really specialize in why answers as much as what to do.
The 1st 2 readings selected for our traditional services where the story of the “fall” from Genesis 3, how a perfect world introduced imperfection. 2nd reading was from Romans 1, a picture of decay and dread the path of sin has led. I wondered who picked these depressing readings, and then remembered it was me.
That led to the Gospel reading, the Good News. The disciples have found themselves a case study in the ravages of sin — a man blind from birth. They ask, “Who sinned this man or his parents?” Interesting they don’t ask to relieve the man’s suffering (they knew Jesus can heal by this point), but simply explain it. They have theological curiosity, cause and effect, just tell us why.
As Jesus loves to do, he shows theological compassion. He trumps their question with a greater answer and a saliva filled miracle.
So there I was at our 8 a.m. service, in the midst of the congregation as we have processed to read the Gospel. As I am reading from John 9 and I come to this beautiful verse in John 9:3, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”
I get this prompting from God as I read “the work of God might be displayed in his life.” He says to me, that’s what I want to do in you.
Powerful moment. I wear glasses, I’m going bald, I have a body that has its own aches, pains, and “irritations”. I should have died when I was born, but God had me in the big city, a great hospital and dedicated, prayerful parents. That’s why my philosophy of life is two-fold: “Every day is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present” and “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” Day 1 should have been it, but God wanted to display some of His work. When I do life right, His work shines through. When I do life wrong, Genesis 3 and Romans 1 are in full display. Here’s to more John 9:3 days.
Sunday God reminded me that was true for me. He helped me to find the good, and then gave me the chance to share it. In a message that asked why, He reminded me who is with me. That’s how I found the good in suffering this week.
How about you, where has God been helping you to find the potential good in suffering?