“It was for God’s glory…”

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I was approached by a couple of people who had taken it upon themselves to inform me that my sickness was due to bitterness and unforgiveness in my heart. And that in order for any healing prayers to be heard about my situation, I needed to repent.

When my dad was very sick and battling pulmonary fibrosis, we heard the same things from “well-meaning” people who just thought they knew what the solution was; “You have unconfessed sin! God can’t heal you until you repent!”

Sadly, I have heard this same story more than once from others who have been beaten down with these words instead of loved on and supported by people who should have known better. And needless to say, that callous, judgmental, unbiblical and self-righteous attitude doesn’t really fly in my book.

It’s funny how we try to speak for God.

A few days ago, I was reading John chapter 9:1-3. One of Jesus’s many miracles was healing the blind- physically and figuratively. But the people around Him asked, “Hey, Jesus! So, who’s to blame here for this guy’s handicap? Who sinned- this guy or his parents?” (Because of course we also have those who LOVE to latch onto the “generational curse” theology…)

Jesus replied, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

Did those words settle into your heart like they did mine?

We are always grasping in our humanness to find an answer for the pain. “If this, then that.” But  what if the answer to why you’re facing your uphill battle this very moment has nothing to do with some past sin, but simply to glorify God through the outcome? What if the answer isn’t logical, orderly, and complete?

The truth is that we are all sinners. We were born with the innate ability to disobey, strive, and test the limits of consequences to our actions. But we serve a loving, caring God who is in the business of redemption. When we repent of our sins, “He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). If we are constantly feeling like we are dodging lightning bolts from the Great Punisher in the Sky, or telling others that the reason for their suffering is because they’re sinners…well, then we’re dangerously missing the whole point of TRUE Christianity.

Further along in the book of John, there’s the death of Lazarus- a dear friend of Jesus. Jesus knew that Lazarus was close to death, and yet…He waited before going to see him. In fact, it was 4 days after his death before Jesus headed to see Lazarus’s family. And Lazarus’s sisters both confronted Jesus with the same thing; “Lord, if you had only been here, our brother would still be alive.”

And Jesus wept. John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible, and it frankly shows Jesus’s human emotions- His grief over losing a close friend to sickness and death. But then, He raises a very dead Lazarus back to life, and says what? That this was all to show God’s glory.

Because that’s who God is. That’s what He does. He is love and power. He is blessing and redemption of the broken things. And when we portray a false and hurtful version of who He is, I have to think that it hurts God too. When we wound someone who is already in pain because of life’s hardships through our self-righteous and works-driven theology, we are not only falsely showing them who Christ is, but also proving that we are so desperate for an answer that we are willing to make one up– and believe it so strongly that we force it upon others as well.

I do not claim that my cancer, surgery, and recovery hasn’t affected me deeply. But not for a second did I ever think that God was punishing me for something. And these verses were exactly what I needed to read in confirmation. God loves us so much, and we live in a very broken, messed up world. Jesus is our salvation, and we long for Eternity. But before we get there, we have to go through the broken, painful things to grow. To mature. To bless others in their faith through our trials. If we don’t go through the fire, we don’t experience refinement. And God is with us, through every single step, if we ask Him. If we give Jesus our lives and believe that never once do we ever walk alone.

Your trial isn’t about you. God is about to show the world His glory through it. So hang on to Him, let Him refine you and shape you through the fire. And ignore anyone who ever tries to make you doubt His limitless, unfailing love for you.