21 May, 2007

Works Greater Than These

John 9:1-3
And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.


I believe that I have come to understand something about God and about life. Or maybe I haven't.

Psychologists several decades ago discovered that if you tormented an animal long enough, it would not try to escape even when the opportunity arose. Maybe I'm just cowering in a corner, calling pain bearable because trying one more time to escape seems more frightening.

But, I think that I have discovered that God usually does not want to heal our pain.

In the verse above, Jesus explains why a certain man was blinded from birth. He was blinded/blind/allowed to be blind so that the works of God could be demonstrated by the Messiah. God allowed this man to spend decades blind for the sake of His kingdom. Someone, somewhere prayed, "Thy kingdom come," and this man was born blind. Jesus was the kingdom of God on earth, and the Father had decreed that His kingdom would be declared, so Jesus healed this man.

By this miracle some amazing truths about the essence of God were demonstrated to everyone who saw it, heard about, read about it, or even just heard sermons about it. By this miracle the kingdom was advanced on earth, and God's purpose was made yet more certain. God's character of kindness was revealed, and Jesus' power was certified.

What's more, every miracle ever performed was done with this same purpose in mind. No miracle is of private edification. God moves to advance His kingdom.

Now, though, the kingdom is different than it was 2,000 years ago.

In the first days of a tree's life, it shoots upward as a tender green sprout. Within a month, though, it begins to form bark and grow strong. When Jesus walked on earth, the church was still a seed beneath the ground, and it needed to burst out in a fit of miracles. When Jesus rose from the tomb, the sprout breached the ground and tasted its first real air. In that tender first generation, the miracles continued. But one day, just like the tree sprout grows bark, the church began to live more on love than miracles.

Miracles are fast, but love works slowly - very slowly. That's OK. Miracles burst forth, but love never fails.

Today, when I meet a man blind from birth, I will assume that he is blind for exactly the same reason as that man Jesus saw 2,000 years ago. The man is blind that the works of God should be made manifest in him. But today, the works of God are works of love, slow, patient, unfailing love. I don't believe that God's kingdom answers that man with sight any more, but now with adoption.

The upshot is that I doubt that the pains God has allowed into my life were brought merely so that He could remove them.

I think God has something better planned for me than a miracle. And I think if I drive myself crazy trying to find that miracle, trying to save my life, I will lose my life. But if I decide to lose my life to pain, it just may be that I will find a love in Him worth dying for.

I have seen miracles and heard of miracles that are clear markers of God breaking into time. I will pray for miracles for myself and others. I will ask for healing and deliverance wherever they are wanted. But maybe I won't despair if it turns out that the works God has planned for my situation are greater than any miracle.

8 comments:

pearlie said...

But, I think that I have discovered that God usually does not want to heal our pain.

This reminds me of Paul's thorn :)
There will be a long line in heaven waiting to talk to him and ask him loads of questions. Or maybe there will be a FAQ section in heaven! haha ... anyway ...

God allowed this man to spend decades blind for the sake of His kingdom.
I am not sure if you can conclude that?

What's more, every miracle ever performed was done with this same purpose in mind. No miracle is of private edification. God moves to advance His kingdom.
Interesting thought and I would say I have to agree.

Miracles are fast
And they don't last as long as love does too.

The man is blind that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
The blind also shows us that though they are blind physically, they are not blind in spirit or in faith, as much as the seeing do. We are the ones who are blind, and most of the times.

But maybe I won't despair if it turns out that the works God has planned for my situation are greater than any miracle.
Amen. Thanks for the reminder. We need to look for what matters to God. Like what Milly said (though not in the exact context), "right here silly".

Milly said...

Good stuff.

Patchouli said...

pearlie said it first; this reminds me of Paul's thorn.

CP, I can't believe that God wants us to live in pain anymore than He wants us to be broken.
A wise woman once said to me, "Can't you let Jesus absorb your pain?"
I am still answering that one.

codepoke said...

Thank you, Pearlie, for dropping by. Good to see you. :-)

> I am not sure if you can conclude that?
I don't really think this is a conclusion, so much as a reading of the text. The man was a man, so he was at least 2 decades old. He had been blind from birth. Jesus said it was for a reason of God's own. What do you figure I've missed?

> Miracles are fast
And they don't last as long as love does too.

Great, great point, Pearlie. Thank you.

codepoke said...

Patchouli,

> Can't you let Jesus absorb your pain?

That's a very pregnant phrase, and if you're still wrestling with it, it must still be poignant for you. I'm sure you are plumbing depths out of it that I am not going to see in my little comment, so only take it for what it's worth.

But, no, I cannot just let Jesus absorb my pain. No, and I don't see where scripture says I should be able to do that. I don't see where the Father did that for the Son, and I don't see where the Son promises to do it for His children.

He makes a way of escape, but He never anaesthetizes us.

I don't see David saying anything about God absorbing his pain. I don't see Christ pain-free even when He knows He will soon raise His friend Lazarus.

Christ does something much bigger. He lets us hurt, and love anyway. But now I'm just repeating myself.

Let me attack it this way. We sin when we doubt God, but we are honest and rewarded when we cry out to Him with our pain. When we remember that He is in charge, and share our pain with Him, we cannot expect He will take it away. He will deliver us, but most often "within" our pain, rather than "from" it.

That's my experience, and I don't know the context of your lady friend's statement, nor how you interpret it. So, spit out the stuff that misses the mark for you. May the Lord bless.

Weekend Fisher said...

God is there in the cross. We want glory and don't understand that lowliness is greater.

Missy said...

"Christ does something much bigger. He lets us hurt, and love anyway."

worth repeating, everytime {c;

pearlie said...

Thank you, Pearlie, for dropping by.
I am guilty of being a lurker. I have been dropping in quite a bit really :) except for this week though.