God Allows Us to Suffer
Only to Bring About Some Greater Good
By Fr. Ankido Sipo
So often in the gospels, we read of stories of people interacting with our Lord in beautiful
ways, yet they go unnamed. The greatest example of this is in the Gospel of John, in which John
does not use his own name to refer to himself, but calls himself merely the “Beloved Disciple.”
The reasons why the gospel writers leave some people unnamed are complex and vary from
person to person, but one thing we can certainly say on a spiritual level is this: when someone
is unnamed, we are meant to put our own names where their names are missing.
Such is the situation in this Sunday’s Gospel reading, which comes from John 9. The man born
blind is not named; Jesus confirms that the man’s blindness from birth is not the result of his sin
or of the sins of his parents, but that “the works of God might be made manifest in him” (John
9:3). Here’s a story filled at once with tragedy, redemption, drama and beauty: the man is born
blind at no fault of his own, and presumably has struggled his entire life (he was a beggar); the
Lord takes notice of him and uses the man’s suffering as a tool to show the glory and love of
God by healing him; then everyone takes notice of the man and God is praised through him.
The overarching theme is this: God allows us to suffer only to bring about some greater good
through it, so that those who look upon can see the hand of God working in our lives and
entrust themselves to him. Suffering and healing through it now becomes a tool of bringing
others to Christ. Specifically, in this story, Jesus tells the man to go and wash in the pool, which
he does and is given his sight thereafter. This is a clear reference to the Sacrament of Baptism,
which, especially in the early church, was termed the “enlightenment.” Before we are baptized,
we carry with us the stain of original sin, which is a blinding force upon our minds and hearts
that stems from sin which has entered the world through Adam and Eve, into whose life we are
born; “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord
Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Jesus also commanded us to “go
wash in the pool” of baptism, in which we receive the Spirit of Christ, where we leave our
blindness and come forth seeing.
We are the “man born blind,” but our Lord has taken notice of us, and has come to us and
given us sight. Let us, like this man, be grateful to our Healer and follow him, that we do not fall
back into our old blindness.