Disability and the Sovereign Goodness of God

“Who sinned? This man or his parents, that he would be born blind?”

In other words, why?

I keep reading and re-reading the story of John Chapter 9. It’s the chapter where Jesus heals the man who was blind from birth. And the disciples want to know in verse 2, “Who sinned?” That’s the same question we’re all asking if we’re honest. We want to know the cause.


Initially the answer Jesus gives is not very satisfying, at least to me. He says, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents.” Neither? So wait, there’s no cause for this terrible thing that has happened to this man? He was just born blind? It seems like some cruel divine dealing to the man who has to suffer the results of not being able to see, especially if he or his parents did nothing to cause his blindness.

There’s something about our nature that wants some reason for everything that happens in our lives, especially the bad things. We want to know the cause so that we can fix it. So that we can prevent it from happening again. Or so that we can feel justified in some way about what happened.


It’s the question I find myself asking again and again about N and why he was born the way he was – with a significant amount of genetic material missing. It’s my reflex to ask “Why?”

Notice the answer Jesus gives, “it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (vs 3) The reason has nothing to do with the past. The thing that caused the disability. The reason has everything to do with the future. With God’s purposes.

That’s a hard answer to accept – that it’s for God’s purposes – unless you believe that God is also good.

This chapter in the book of John, that I just so happen to be studying with a group of women each week, jumped to mind after I had spent 24 hours prior watching my son writhe in pain post-surgery. My disabled from birth son. And I wonder, “Why God?” And how can you be glorified in his seemingly futile pain? I realized after a prayer that had me practically in puddles on the floor of room 216 in the IMCU that God will always work his purposes. He always gets the glory. That’s my answer too. “So that the works of God might be displayed.”

Because I do believe that God loves me and my family. And that He has good purposes planned for us. And if you look at it with a spiritual perspective, it’s really quite amazing that we even get a front row seat to the “works of God.”

So I am learning to accept it because God is God and I don’t get to choose everything that happens in my life or my son’s life. I can keep asking questions about the cause of things but the answer God gives is always about the purpose of things. And the truth is that suffering can only have meaning in relation to God.

It motivates me to align my purposes with the great I Am. I do not have the power to work against him and it has no benefit in the end. Plus, I’d rather wait and see these “works of God” that He’s promised anyway. Sounds pretty amazing.

“Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glorify in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight] – to the one only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory (splendor), majesty, might and dominion, and power and authority, before all time and now and forever (unto all the ages of eternity). Amen (so be it).” – Jude 1: 24-25 (AMP)

I encourage you to download this completely FREE book (actually it’s a collection of sermons and interviews, but still equally compelling) from John Piper on John Chapter 9. He digs further into the controversy of those pages of Scriptures – like why does Jesus heal some and not others, why did He break all of the religious rules and use mud to heal on the Sabbath, and my favorite, he outlines the beautiful transformation of this once blind man’s faith.

My book, Beauty in Broken Dreams: A Hopeful Handbook for the Early Years as a Special Needs Parent, is now available on Amazon!

Also be sure to check out my list of Favorite Books on Disability!

#Godsgoodness #purpose

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