by David Sisler

Grace, the final frontier. These are the victories of a believer's highest prize. Our eternal mission: to explore strange new blessings, to seek out New Life and new salvation, to boldly go where the Son of Man has gone before.

Charles Swindoll, tells of a friend from his seminary days who has a birthmark on his face. The birthmark is like a burn scar. It stretches down his forehead and across his nose and down a large section of his mouth and neck.

One day Swindoll asked the man how he could be so effective on his feet and trust God to use him without any apparent concern about his looks.

The man replied, "Because of my Dad. My Dad taught me, as far back as I can remember, that this part of my face was where an angel must have kissed me before I was ever born. He said, ‘Son, this marking was for Dad, so that I might know that you are mine. You have been marked out by God just to remind me that you're my son.'

"All through my young days, as I grew up, I was reminded by my Dad, ‘You are the most important, special fellow on earth.'

"To tell the truth," he said, "I got to where I felt sorry for people who didn't have birthmarks across the sides of their faces!"

One day Jesus met a man who had been born blind. Someone in the crowd raised a question we may find hard to understand. "Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?"

Many people in that day believed in prenatal sin. They believed that a child not yet born, still in his mother's womb, could sin, and because of that sin, be afflicted by God.

Jesus replied, "It was neither he nor his parents, but it happened that in him there might be a demonstration of what God can do."

The idea that an unborn child could sin and therefore be punished by God repels most of us. Yet we fall into the same trap when we see a difficulty or calamity in an individual's life and immediately try to find what sin caused the problem. Sin does bring suffering, but not all suffering is the result of an immediate sin.

Jesus' answer is liberating! How many parents have been plunged into grief because of the death of a child and then had their sorrow magnified when they were tempted to ask, "Was it my fault? Did something from my past, some sin, some disobedience to God kill my child?" Jesus' answer is a loud, "No!"

There are no "pat answers" for sickness and suffering in our world, although some try to provide one. "It is God's will for everyone to be healthy and have no wants," they say. "The only reason for suffering is a lack of faith," they say.

That is sheer nonsense! Here was a man, blind from birth, who was born blind so that Jesus could heal him and God could receive the glory. In the sovereignty of God all things – good and bad – come to God's people.

One look at suffering through the eyes of Jesus is enough to prove that God's sovereignty is not capricious.

Every time Jesus saw disease, He healed it. Every time He saw human misery, He moved against it. His love allows suffering. His grace strengthens through suffering.

Man's suffering shows what God can do. Can you imagine being made blind for one moment in time so that God could reach down, apply His spittle to your eyes, tell you to go wash, and then heal you through that act of your faith?

Suffering, loss, disappointment, and affliction are all opportunities for God to display His grace. It is an opportunity for Him to demonstrate His glory in our lives.

If all is well with you, thank God. It is because of His grace. If all is not well with you, thank God. That, too, is because of His grace.


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