And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
It is difficult to see how bad things can turn out well. How can we be better following a terrible illness? How can deprivation make us stronger? I believe Jesus and His apostles give us an answer to all these quandaries.
Years ago a good friend of mine said that God would never purposely make someone “sick,” because to do so would be inconsistent with His divine character. However, I challenged this notion. First of all, God has a heavenly and eternal perspective. He knows what is best for us even when we resist Him. I suggested the case of Miriam found in the book of Numbers 12.
Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron had grown envious of Moses’ power and position, but when they confronted the prophet, God makes Miriam a leper to chasten her envious heart. After Moses pleads for her salvation from this deadly disease, God heals her. However, the point is made that God can and will use all means at His disposal to correct His people.
In another instance, Jesus came upon a man born blind as He exited the Temple one day. “His disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:1-3). In this case, God’s glory was the focus not sin. This man’s blindness served a divine purpose to testify to the power of God and the revelation of Jesus Christ as His Son when he was miraculously healed and testified to skeptics in his day.
Before we condemn these actions as cold hearted , let us consider the words of the hymn writer, Fanny Crosby, who, though blind from a young age, said, “When I get to Heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.” The hymnist considered her blindness an unexpected blessing. In fact it caused her to focus her attention on music, poetry and committing great passages to memory by hearing them. As a result, she is perhaps the best known hymn writer in American history.
Regardless of our circumstances and whether we suffer from sin or simply to testify to God’s power, we can glorify God. He only chastens those He loves (Hebrews 12:5-7). Furthermore, we can consider Christ and His apostles who suffered great persecution and even execution in service of God. The Apostle Paul summed up the matter saying, “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:12-13). Love God. It will all work out. You will see.