God’s Keys: the Privilege of Infirmity

“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?” (John 9)

No doubt, his parents waited expectantly for their baby’s first sign of sight. At a month, a baby usually can focus on your face, and within six to eight months he can see the world almost as well as you. Probably his parents were still waiting after a month and hoping after eight months. But by and by, coping must have replaced hoping. This baby would never laugh at his mother’s smile. This boy would never play with friends. This adolescent would enter adulthood blind to the brilliance of a sunrise or the entrancing gaze of a sweetheart.

He is introduced in the narrative when Jesus saw him, a man blind from birth. The disciples asked, “Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus said no one had sinned “but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” Did you get that? God withheld sight from this baby, this boy, this man, until adulthood so He could give it back in a personal and extraordinary way. God withheld sight to get glory.

This man might have lived and died an ordinary life, instead God made him a case study, a demonstration to the world of His almighty healing power. To this man, personal fringe benefits included having his story published in the pages of scripture, personal contacts with Jesus (at least two), and the gift of belief in Jesus. Yet, these benefits are only fringe compared to the purpose that Christ mentioned, “that the works of God should be made manifest in him” This man was privileged to be a key in God’s hand. A key that would authenticate the Almighty Himself into the hearts of men. In this case, God kept the gift of sight for 40 years, or until adulthood, in order to give it. For His own glory, God kept to give.

If God can glorify himself by keeping to give, He can also glorify Himself by giving to take. With his “thorn in the flesh”, Paul the Apostle must have had a weakness or condition which he asked God three times to take away. He received this final answer, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” God is one of those who already has everything. Yet God just told Paul “…my strength is made perfect in weakness”, as if God needs our weakness to perfect his own strength.

Job was a man who had much, and lost much. From the depths of his loss, he said “the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” The next verse says, ” In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” Paul said, upon receiving his final answer, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Which is better, to live and die an ordinary and trouble-free life? or, in weakness and adversity, to perfect God’s own incalculable strength, to be a key giving God access to the locked heart of mankind?

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