1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
Do you believe that, if a person sees true art in the form of a remarkable painting, they are likely to comment on the canvas itself? If a person is looking at an original Picasso or Van Gogh, do you think it likely for them to look at someone nearby and say, “Boy, that’s really an amazing piece of canvas behind all that paint”? Of course they wouldn’t. While the canvas might be a very nice canvas indeed, it is crazy to think that the canvas should be the focus of the person who sees the beautiful art painted on it.
Of course, we all think together, none of us would be silly enough to elevate the value of the canvas over the art itself. But, we often do; not necessarily in a museum, but in our lives. When left to ourselves, we tend to focus on background issues and make them out to be of primary importance. In doing so, we take the things that should be of first importance, and push them aside.
Look with me at verse 3 above. Jesus gives us the answer to the disciples’ question as to why a man was born blind—was it his fault or his parents’—and it is not either of the two options they gave to him. Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Neither the man nor his parents are directly to blame for his blindness. Instead, something much more grand is behind this man’s suffering. As strange as it may seem for us to believe, the reason that this man was born blind was in order that the works of God might be displayed in his life.
The man’s suffering was for the purpose of glorifying God. Is that offensive? Yes, if you believe that human happiness is the highest good. However, if you believe that God is our Creator and has the right to do with us as he pleases, and if you believe that the glory of God is the ultimate good, then you have to conclude that it is OK and even good that the Lord would allow this to happen.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
God is our Creator. He created all things. Therefore all things that exist do so at God’s whim, for his pleasure.
6 I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
And God created us for his glory. It’s there, plain as day in the scriptures. And, if it is true that God created us and has the right of ownership over us, and it is also true that he created us for the purpose of displaying his glory, then there is nothing wrong whatsoever with God allowing even our suffering if that suffering will display his glory.
All of our lives are for the glory of God. Your strengths and your weaknesses exist for God’s glory. Your happy moments and your greatest tragedies exist for the glory of God. Your greatest joys and your greatest sufferings are all testimonies in one way or another to the glory of God.
You know what this teaching makes you? It makes you a canvas. You are a canvas that God has created in order to display the beautiful art of his glory. Sometimes the colors that he uses to create that art are dark and painful. Sometimes the colors that he uses are bright and lovely. In either case, they are painted onto your life in order that you will, when all is said and done, truly display for the world to see the glory of God, the divine artist.
What we must do, after thinking about the words of Jesus in verse 3, is change how we think. We must think of ourselves as the canvas onto which God paints. We exist for his purposes and for his glory. We must not ever allow ourselves to think that we are of the utmost importance. God is of the utmost importance. His glory is of the utmost importance. Our purpose for existence is to display that glory of God for all to see. If you cannot stomach that, then you are at odds with God and his purposes. Let me urge you to fight to change that way of thinking, because you will never defeat God. Recognize that your life is a canvas for the displaying of the glory of God.