Autumn has always been my favorite season. I love the way a quick frost turns the trees from faded green into scarlet, goldenrod, and orange. It’s the gateway into the joys of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
But as I write this, I’m looking at ashen clouds blustering across a cold, gloomy, brooding landscape. This year’s season feels different. It reflects the current news cycle. Lots of bad stuff out there…rancor, violence, blame, death. With more to come.
How do we find hope in the midst of despair? What keeps us going when bad news arrives? Why is there so much suffering and pain?
Jesus had an answer when His disciples asked Him a similar question in John 9 about a blind man: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” They were looking for the answer to the “why” question in the midst of this poor man’s sad predicament. They wanted to know who was to blame.
I doubt the disciples were testing Him, but according to Dr. R.C. Sproul in his lecture series, Dust to Glory, they asked a wrong, illogical question.1Jesus answers, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.” Jesus is basically saying, “You have the wrong perspective. It’s not his sin or his parents’ sin…this has happened so that My Father may be glorified.”
Jesus promptly gives sight to the blind man. But the poor man, just at the moment of his greatest rejoicing, is hounded and pestered by Pharisees who are frothing at the mouth to find something with which they can accuse Jesus, in this case, breaking the Sabbath laws with a healing. The man’s response drips with sarcasm, ridiculing the Pharisees’ own blindness.
At the close of the chapter, the formerly blind man finds Jesus again, and Jesus reveals Himself as his Healer. It’s a moment of profound joy and hope as the man worships his Savior, saying simply, “Lord, I believe!” The blind man sees the light.
There’s another familiar phrase in this passage: Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” He keeps patiently teaching His followers, “I’m the Light when things look darkest.” He opens our eyes, blinded by bad news, to see that He alone is our hope and salvation. He overcomes the sin and suffering in our lives with His grace. He liberates us from despair and gloom by revealing the answer to the “why” question—so that He may be glorified.
When the temptation comes to sink into despondency while listening to the news, turn your eyes toward His light. Recognize that He is sovereign and has a purpose for everything. Worship Him and give Him the glory. He will work all things out for our good. His light will return, even as He sent a sunset to illuminate the landscape at the end of the day….
1R.C. Sproul, “Job,” Dust to Glory (Sanford, Fla.: Reformation Trust Publishing/Ligonier Ministries, 2006).