A Different Way to Look at Suffering
Micca Monda Campbell

"'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.'" John 9:3 (NIV)

Jesus had a unique way of clearing up misconceptions by helping people see truth as it was meant to be. For example, in John 9 we find Jesus refuting the traditional explanation of suffering when His disciples point to a man born blind and ask, "Who sinned, this man or his parents?" In other words, they wanted to know Why did he deserve blindness? Jesus answers frankly, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."

The disciples looked backwards to find out why the man was blind. Jesus redirects their attention by pointing forward and upward with a new and different perspective.

Usually, our response to challenges or suffering is determined by our perspective. When our focus is inward on ourselves or outward on circumstances, our natural response is fear, insecurity, grumbling and despair. I know. I've been there far too often. Have you?

Yet, Jesus redirects our questions and our focus. In doing so, it causes us to see suffering in a new light that disproves the old tradition. Not all suffering is a direct result of sin. Pain has a higher purpose in our lives. It's not necessarily there because we deserve it. It's to reveal God's glory.

Suffering is meant to refine us. James says it makes us "perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (1:4b, ESV). Pain drives us to seek the heart and will of God.

Perhaps you and I have been going at it all wrong. We've been looking backwards in the rearview mirror of life asking, "Why? What did I do to deserve this?" Instead, we should look forward and up asking, "What's the purpose of my pain? What's the end result? What is God trying to do, accomplish, or teach me?"

These types of questions enable us to hold out hope for the future. They remind us our suffering can be transformed or redeemed. Tragedies and hardships like the loss of a spouse, a child, a limb, a job, or a home can be used to display God's work and make us more like Jesus.

Isn't it time you and I looked up? An upward focus brings about a supernatural response that reflects trust and confidence in God, as He brings about His glorious work in each of us.

Dear Lord, give me a new perspective today. Help me see the real meaning of my suffering. Enable me to trust You with the good work You are accomplishing in my life through this pain. I long for You to be glorified in this trial. Give me the strength I need to make that happen. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
An Untroubled Heart by Micca Campbell

Get Over It and Get On With It by Michelle McKinney Hammond

Visit Micca’s blog - Reflections, and find out more about her resources here.

Application Steps:
Choose not to look in the review mirror of life today. Instead, look forward. Ask God "to what end" is my suffering. Look for evidence of how God is at work refining your faith and character to match His.

What do you think God is trying to accomplish in your life through your suffering?

The blind man learned something about Christ from being healed. What have you learned about Christ from your experience?

Power Verses:
1 Peter 4:12-13, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed" (NIV).

© 2009 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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Blogger Roots and Sprouts said...

Encouraging one! thank you for sharing this!,Yes our pain matters in fulfilling our purpose

Anonymous SandyMomOf5 said...

Wow, what a way to look at trials! We ALL suffer through them at one time or another, and I have often been guilty of "looking backwards" to gain understanding. It seems like a no-brainer to follow the teaching of Jesus in John chapter 9 and realize that our trials serve a purpose, and begin to look forward and up instead. Thank you, Micca Monda Campbell, for helping to open my eyes to this truth.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to say that I have had people say to me those exact words about what sin did your parents do for you to be disabled (I have hearing problems since birth) and it used to bother me. But I have to say that as an adult with teenage boys that are driving. I have been able to sleep peacfully at night leaving them in God's care and not worry about them being out on the roads, so I know that God has used my hearing lose as a way to give my worries to him and to trust that he is always in control.

Anonymous Teske said...

Thank you for this devotion, Micca! I will most definitely share this with the women in my Mommies with Hope ministry, formed as a direct result of the very things you discussed in your devotion...suffering that occurs to display God's glory! In our group, we have all lost children, but based on 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, we are trying to use our experiences to comfort others.


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