Yesterday I talked with a woman walking along the street who suffered substantial losses due to Hurricane Sandy. She lost her car, a houseful of new furniture and other possessions, and had her house badly damaged. She said she made a horrible mistake because bought a house in Island Park, moving from Manhattan just two months before Sandy hit last year. This means that in August of 2012 she bought a home and in October of 2012 she lost so much. She didn’t have insurance, but said she had money to fix it and is waiting on family to come and help her rebuild.
On the one hand, here is a person feeling regret and possibly wondering where she went wrong to deserve this kind of luck. On the other hand I got to thinking that somewhere, somebody is telling everyone how fortunate they are that they sold their house two months before the hurricane hit. And such is life. We all have our ups and downs.
This brings to mind someone in the Bible (John 9) who was blind. In Jesus’ day people thought that being born with a disability was a punishment. The disciples asked Jesus who sinned, the man who was blind or his parents. Jesus said, neither. Scripture says, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” This happened so God could work in the blind man’s life, and God did through Jesus.
It’s probably not wise to tell someone at the very moment that they’re going through a difficult time that it may be so Jesus can be glorified. That could sound like Jesus doesn’t care about us, but will put us through torture so He can get some attention. As His follower, I know that’s not how He is. And ironically sometimes it is precisely because He does care so much that He allows us to to experience suffering in hopes that we will rely more fully on Him and draw closer to Him. And that’s all speculation on my part.
But what is not speculation is that when bad things happen, Jesus says it’s not a punishment. The woman who bought the house two months too soon was not being punished and the person who sold the house just in time did nothing to deserve that fortunate break. But in the midst of it all, if the works of God can be displayed in both instances, and at all times, it means that those times in life are not wasted — Even the most difficult times.
So if and when you go through hard times and maybe even have regret, like this woman in Island Park, NY, don’t assume you’ve done something wrong or are being punished. Look for God in the moment and see how He might be displayed and glorified in you. It’s one thing to praise and glorify Jesus when our circumstances are great, but it impresses people exponentially more on His behalf when we glorify Him in and following the storms of life.
A righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers the person from them all. Psalm 34:19