Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?” 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. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.”
He said this and then spit in the dust, made a clay paste with the saliva, rubbed the paste on the blind man’s eyes, and said, “Go, wash at the Pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “Sent”). The man went and washed—and saw. (MSG)
We all want simple answers to complex problems, neat resolutions to messy predicaments. If we put this desire into practice, we may end up with misguided answers and unsatisfactory resolutions.
The disciples of Jesus had embraced the common view that if someone was sick then someone must have sinned. The only question was who did actually sin. Jesus rebukes their simplistic approach. He implies that no one is especially to blame. The better approach is to see what good God can do out of a bad situation. In this case, it was decisive, miraculous healing.
Whether it be these disciples or the so called comforters of Job, we come up against this desire to tidy up challenging situations with a cut and dried cause and effect response. If we can find someone to blame, if this person’s dire circumstances can be traced back to their wrongdoing, then perhaps we can avoid such a fate by staying on the straight and narrow.
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This is not the way life works. The good suffer, the loving get sick, the faithful have accidents. Life is not always fair, not always explicable. Rather than looking for an answer, let’s look to a person: Jesus. When life is not fair we can trust him to treat us fairly. When life is not good we can be sure he will be good.