What is the worst thing in your life? What is the most painful place, the most intense struggle? What has been the biggest disappointment, the most acute grief? Is it possible that that very space might be the birthplace of the most beautiful of gifts, the most extravagant display of God’s power, the most treasured encounter with His loving and life-giving presence? Is it possible that through the troubles in your life, you will have the most exquisite experience of the very touch of God?
Two mornings ago, I had the privilege of preaching at a church in San Jose for their Sunday morning worship service and I decided to speak from John 9:1-11, one of my most favorite Gospel stories, and the heart of my life with God. I have been swept up into the beauty of Jesus in a new way through reading The Message paraphrase. Why not read the text now and then re-join me here…
In this story of the healing of a man born blind, the disciples ask Jesus the question that every human being I know has asked at some point. WHY? Why is this man suffering? The way they expressed it, based on their theological understanding at the time was, “Who sinned? Him or his parents? “ In other words, who is to blame?
Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do.”
Look instead for what God can do! What an incredibly peaceful and empowering way to approach life—constantly, consistently looking for what God can do in the midst of absolutely anything.
The NIV puts it this way: “This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” The NLT: This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.
Jesus says a few more life-giving and inspiring words about LIGHT and then He gets very intimate with this man. He intertwines his saliva with the man’s sweat. I think of a mama who licks her fingers to wipe off the messy on her children. It’s very nurturing to me—very personal, invasive even. He makes mud pie with his spit and the dust at his feet and smears it on the man’s eyes.
And then something very unique happens. Jesus invites the man to partake in the healing. He asks him to go wash. He is healed when he washes.
What a mind boggling experience for this man! Sometimes Jesus asks us to do things and we have no idea what He has in mind. It seems silly or we think it will make us look stupid, but we do it, and God has a miracle just waiting if we listen to His voice and follow His lead.
This is our God.
Many of you have heard the story of how my greatest loss, my most intense grief, my infertility has been the pathway to the calling God has on my life as “mother to many” which expresses itself in many ways by the power of God! The way God has continued to use the story of my Kayla Joy to draw others to his deep love and light, is overwhelming.
Yesterday I attended a training workshop as part of our annual foster care licensing requirements. It was on supporting children and adolescents with ADHD. The presenter was a passionate, intelligent, vibrant woman about my age who had lost her brother due to mental health issues and drug addiction in their early 20’s. From this pain, she found her life’s work as a grief counselor and educator, completing her doctoral work in Integrated Psychology. Her journey, the path of her own pain and redemption has led her to help set free, and bring hope and healing to hundreds, if not thousands of people. Not only does she support people through counseling, but she also trains other helping professionals. The extent of her work, the ripple effect of her life is impossible to trace.
This isn’t to say that she would trade it all to have her brother back. But God has worked through and redeemed some of her pain. I experienced the gift of her suffering yesterday. I receive it humbly and I choose to remember her brother right now through this post.
Look instead for what God can do.
Free will has wreaked havoc in this world, but God can invade every single painful situation with His presence, His light, His hope. And he does this through you, His people, empowered by His Spirit.
Here’s the thing. Jesus invites us to partner with Him in our healing. We don’t passively sit back, but we expectantly open ourselves up to see and be a part of how God wants to heal us and then release us into the world.
Like the blind man, Jesus touches us and then asks us to “go wash off.”
What does that look like for you? How is God asking you to respond to his invitation of healing? What is your part?
I encourage you today to reflect on those things that are the most difficult about your life, and then to invite Jesus to touch you, to heal you and to speak to you about how He wants you to take a step toward your healing.
There is so much He wants to do in and through you. I am so convinced of that.
There is a time for “why” and then there is a time to look instead for what God can do!
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