In John 9:1-23 we have the story of Jesus healing a man who had been blind since birth on the Sabbath. This is the one where Jesus makes mud with his spit, rubs it on the man’s eyes, and tells him to go wash in the pool of Siloam.
As they were passing this blind man the disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (vs 2). Jesus responded that it was neither, and then he said something very interesting:
“but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”John 9:3-5
When reading this it sounds like Jesus is saying that the man was born blind, not because of any sin on his or his parent’s part, but so that this day would come and Jesus could heal him. Does that mean that God intentionally makes people blind or born with other maladies for his own glory? To be honest, that sounds unfair, and if that were the truth I would have a hard time stomaching it. However, I don’t believe that is the case.
The Cause of Maladies
Regarding this matter, biblical scholar, F. F. Bruce explained: “This does not mean that God deliberately caused the child to be born blind in order that, after many years, his glory should be displayed in the removal of the blindness; to think so would again be aspersion on the character of God. It does mean that God overruled the disaster of the child’s blindness so that, when the child grew to manhood, he might, by the recovering of his sight, see the glory of God in the face of Christ, and others, seeing the work of God, might turn to the true Light of the World.”
Maladies and death were not part of God’s original design, but they are the result of sin.
“Birth defects and other such tragedies are sometimes due to sinful behavior of the parents. Yet far more often – and in the case Jesus spoke of here – it is due simply to sin and our fallen condition in general, not due to any specific sin. The sin of Adam set the principle of death and its associated destruction in the world and we have had to deal with it ever since” (David Guzik).
Things meant for our destruction, such as sickness, God can use for his own glory and to show us his mercy and love through strength and healing. This perspective on the cause of the man’s blindness, and God using it for his glory, is more in line with the loving, just God I know from the Bible.