John 9:2 "Teacher, his disciples asked him, why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his own sins or those of his parents?" (NLT)

It was a question I considered when I received the news-why. It wasn't the first time I had wrangled with a confusing and senseless situation, and it wouldn't be the last.

My daughter's cross country coach had just received the most tragic news a parent could hear. His daughter had been killed. She was riding her bike through their genteel neighborhood when a gentleman accidentally ran a stop sign and hit her. The father was asking why, and I was contemplating the question myself.

The why of apparent meaningless tragedies that destroy lives and hard earned possessions is never simple to answer. Some suggestions offered are purely insufficient to soothe our anger or sadness and others are theologically incorrect. Time worn responses are just that-worn. Like a thread bare towel, they provide little substance to dry the tears of misunderstanding.

The question predates this instance in Jesus' career, but Jesus gives a new spin on the ancient "why dilemma." He and his disciples happen upon a man born blind. Reflecting the typical mindset, the disciples ask Jesus who sinned-the man or his parents. After all, suffering-at least in their philosophical understanding, was always the result of sin. Jesus' answer was radical. No one. He was born blind so the power of God would be seen in him.

So God created him blind just so He could look good? Jesus' answer may seem as insufficient as some we hear, but it does challenge us to revolutionize our focus when difficulties intrude on our otherwise serene existence.

Asking God why is not sinful as some have supposed. It is a normal human response to unexplainable or confusing events. But the more appropriate question is what. Redeeming tragedies is more important than wallowing in them. Learning from difficulties is healthier than letting them destroy our initiative.

The healed blind man redeemed his misfortune. Following his healing, he spread the good news about Jesus' power. Redeeming our trials and tragedies gives us the opportunity to illuminate the power of God's sustaining grace as well as share the lessons He has taught us through the "what." God consoles us so we can comfort others.

Prayer: Lord, enable me to redeem what otherwise might appear unredeemable.

Martin Wiles mandmwiles@homesc.com

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