In the Gospel for this Sunday we meet a man who had been blind from birth. The disciples asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he is blind?” In Jesus’ time it was believed that anything bad that happened to someone was punishment from God. So it would have made sense to ask whose sin we are talking about here. Even today many people react in the same way when something negative happens in their life. “What did I do that God is sending this punishment into my life?” Their image of God is a great puppet master in the sky, who is pulling his strings, micro-managing everything that happens to us.
Jesus responded to this question, “Neither sinned.” God does not do evil. He does not send pain and suffering into the lives of His children. If that is so, why do these things happen?
Probably most of the pain in our lives comes from our own sin, or the sin of others. God warns us that sin is destructive to us and to others. If I smoke all my life, and I get lung cancer, does it make sense to blame God for giving me cancer? I have given myself cancer. If I am driving drunk, and I run off the road and am paralyzed in the accident, can I blame God for paralyzing me? I have paralyzed myself. When I choose the behavior, I choose the consequences. Also, my sins can impact others. If I am driving drunk and kill or injure someone, it was not God who caused this injury. I did that.
Some things just happen. If there is a tornado, and it hits my house, God did not send that tornado to hit my house. It just happened. If I have a heart attack, God did not send that heart attack. It may be caused by my lifestyle, or it may be a congenital weakness in my heart. Some things just happen, and they impact our lives —sometimes positively, and sometimes negatively.
What God does do is use whatever happens in our lives, negatively or positively, and turn it into something good. St. Paul writes that “All things work for the good, for those who love God.” It may take a while for us to see it, but if we place our struggles into God’s hands, He will turn our sufferings into blessings, for ourselves and for others. What God does best is to turn garbage into gold.
–Fr. Mike Comer