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John 9:3-4 - Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God would be displayed in him. While it is daytime, we must do the works of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when no one can work.

and

John 11:4 - When Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

In both cases, Jesus clearly mentioned that the sickness is for God's glory. Why are children born handicapped?

Does it mean that God intentionally handicapped them, so that He could heal them and use them for His glory?

If so, why are millions of handicapped people continue to live in that state? Was God's glory limited to just one person?

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  • It does not apply to everyone. It's a general statement about belief about and a specific statement for one man.
    – Michael16
    Mar 18, 2023 at 4:57
  • One could argue that hereditary conditions are indeed intended to be healed. However the person meant to administer the healing used their free will to renege on their own destiny (which includes healing others) because they chose instead to preserve their own flesh nature. (psalm 40:7, for the intended healer). (1 Cor 13:7, for God, loving and choosing to trust the healing minister to get the job done) Long story short: because the church isn't doing its job. Though God is on standby to minister healing through a committed Christian. Mar 19, 2023 at 21:01

5 Answers 5

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You have some good answers here. These passages do not address the cause of suffering other than we cannot blame suffering directly on the one who is suffering. Note the book of Job. That was a way of justifying ignoring one's responsibility to help those suffering. Consider the parable of the Good Samaritan.

In the first passage is:

... but that the works of God might be displayed in him. (John 9:3b, ESV)

Your question confuses the reason for suffering with the cause of suffering. The reason is why it is allowed, not what causes it.

We must work the works of him who sent me ... (John 9:4a, ESV)

This was not an isolated incident, but an indication of our responsibility. While God still sometimes performs miracles for a particular purpose, this is not limited to that.

If suffering and illness is caused by a person's sin, why would you work on developing cures? Why would doctors work to heal the sick? Why would first responders spend their time and even risk their lives to help those in trouble?

The fact is suffering exists as a opportunity for love.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16–17, ESV)

The purpose of all creation is to express and respect who God is:

  The heavens declare the glory of God, 
     the sky proclaims His handiwork. 
  Day to day makes utterance, 
     night to night speaks out. 
  There is no utterance, 
     there are no words, 
     whose sound goes unheard. 
  Their voice carries throughout the earth, 
     their words to the end of the world. 
                       (Psalm 19:2–5, JPS1985)

  Let all that breathes praise the LORD. 
     Hallelujah. 
                       (Psalm 150:6, JPS1985)

Thus, God expects our response to suffering to be to show his love.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34–35, ESV)

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matt. 5:44–45, ESV)

  Thus said the LORD: 
  Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom; 
  Let not the strong man glory in his strength; 
  Let not the rich man glory in his riches. 
  But only in this should one glory: 
  In his earnest devotion to Me. 
  For I the LORD act with kindness, 
  Justice, and equity in the world; 
  For in these I delight 
—declares the LORD
                  (Jer. 9:22–23, JPS1985)
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  • "Suffering exists as an opportunity for love"- I really like how you've put this. When we offer mercy and compassion to one another, God is glorified, and His works are displayed in us. Indeed, when we think of disability not just from a physical but also from a mental, emotional, and even spiritual perspective, we are given countless opportunities for glorifying God. "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" - Gal 5:6 NIV
    – Nhi
    Mar 26, 2023 at 16:03
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I believe the punctuation in all the versions I have read is wrong. I would punctuate it like this

John 9:2-5

2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents. But that the works of God should be made manifest in him, 4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day. The night cometh, when no man can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

Jesus went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38 ) Jesus came into the world to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8 )

What causes sickness or suffering is not always discernible. Sometimes it is a parent's sin or the person's own son. But not always. However, the cause is definitely not God corrupting His own creation. In this case, Jesus says it was neither the parents nor the baby in the womb. Nor was the blindness a work of God, because Jesus destroyed the blindness, and a house divided cannot stand.

Our role is not to ascribe blame for suffering but to administer God's healing. We are to ask God, what do I need to know to help this person? And what do you want me to DO to help this person?

Here is what I believe Jesus is saying:

2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his
parents, that he was born blind?

3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents.

But in order that the works of God should be made manifest in him (to destroy
this work of the devil evident in him. Implying that the blindness in question
was **not** God's work), 4 I must work the works of him that sent me instead,
to undo evil, while it is day.
(When the Light is here, it is day here. Jesus must work God's works while He
is present on earth)

The night cometh (when I will not be in the world), when no man can work. (I
will be snatched out of the world by death on a cross. No one will be able to
do these miracles in my name while I am made sin and God's wrath is on Me.
5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world and it is day.

Since His resurrection, Jesus is back in the world in His disciples, and now WE must work the works of him that sent US, while it is day.

Here are some other sentences by John beginning with "alla"

John 4:23; John 14:31; John 15:21, 25; John 16:4, 7.

1
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    – agarza
    Sep 24, 2023 at 14:14
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There is no answer to this problem. However, we can offer two comments:

  1. People are born or become handicapped because of the sinful world in which we live. People experience bad things because of the sinful world around them. God is the source of good things.

  2. God does not fix all bad things in this world, as that would require the removal of all sin and sinners which is all of us. We must wait for the next world for all things to be perfect. See Rev 21 & 22.

Sometimes people need bad situations to grow faith - note Paul's experience in 2 Cor 12:5-10.

The fourth verse of the 23rd psalm is helpful reminder of the vicissitudes of this sinful world for the righteous:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

All God's people have experiences in "the valley of the shadow of death". We must learn to serve God by faith in bad times, not only in good times. We live by faith until all wrongs will be made right.

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These two are the sixth and the seventh sign in the Gospel of John. They were specifically chosen to reveal the divinity of Jesus, which was the message of his book from beginning to end.

The sixth sign is about "Jesus is the light of the world", and starts from John 8:12, where Jesus says;

12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John used a contrast between light (life) and darkness (sin/death) to show the importance of following Jesus. But the Jews had a misconception, as it appeared in their question John 9:2

2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (NIV)

The Jews had a misconception that physical darkness (blindness) was equivalent to spiritual darkness (sin), and therefore they did not show sympathy and assistance to the poor blind man. By not helping their poor neighbour, it was a sin, as in Proverb 14:21 says;

21 It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy. (NIV)

In John 9:4, Jesus urged His disciples to do the works of God while they still can (as long as it is day), before the final judgement (night is coming).

4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. (NIV)

The seventh sign is about resurrection, the last and the most stunning sign of Jesus divinity. Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days in the tomb before Jesus raised him from the death. The key message of the seventh sign is in John 11:25

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.

So it is not God intentionally did something miserable, and use them for His glory. The world itself is always miserable. Jesus reminded us in John 12:8;

8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” (NIV)

Jesus spend three years on earth to establish His church. It is His disciples responsibility to walk in His light and glorify Him.

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Does it mean that God intentionally handicapped them, so that He could heal them and use them for His glory?

It may very well mean that.

If so, why [do] millions of handicapped people continue to live in that state?

This question doesn't logically follow from the first.

Compare with:

  • Stephen Hawking had ALS and was one of history's greatest physicists.
  • So why wasn't Lou Gehrig a great physicist?

and:

  • Ray Charles was a great composer and musical performer.
  • So why can't all blind people do that?

The two cases Jesus mentioned were just that, two cases. The vast majority of handicapped people simply happen to be handicapped; they weren't made that way for a specific purpose.

God cares about people in general. And he especially cares about individuals that respect his will and ask for his help. But most people's lives (in this age) are irrelevant to God's plan. He neither blesses them nor curses them unless there is purpose to doing so.

In Luke 13, Jesus mentions two other cases, some Galilaeans that had been arbitrarily slaughtered by Pilate, and eighteen people that were killed when they just happened to be in the wrong place when a tower collapsed. He then rhetorically asked "think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?", implying that there was no divine purpose to their deaths, bad things simply happened to them (and you might be next).

As Solomon observed:

All share a common destiny — the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. As it is with the good, so with the sinful; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them.

— Ecclesiastes 9:2 (NIV)

During this age, whose god is Satan, God's plan involves relatively few people (e.g. the "elect"). God will interfere in worldly events, when necessary for his plan to stay on course, but for almost everything else mankind is going where it wants to go.

In Matthew 24, Jesus gave signs of when he would return, the most significant of which is verses 21 and 22:

For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.

The only purpose of mankind at the moment is to demonstrate that when it chooses its own way, the inevitable result will be the destruction of all life on Earth.

It is only after the second general resurrection, at the end of the Millennium, that the lives of the people of this age will finally become part of God's plan.

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