Editor’s Note: Today’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Pastor Ryun Chang.
Devotional Thought for Today
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
We are all philosophers at heart, especially when bad things happen. When my sister-in-law was dying of cancer many years ago, a relative opined that it was because my family wasn’t supportive of my ministry. When a friend’s wife was killed in an automobile accident, her father opined that this tragedy occurred because my friend didn’t respond to God’s call to enter ministry. What philosophy did these people have in common? Their view was that bad things happen because of the bad things we’ve done.
That’s also the philosophy that the disciples firmly held. Upon seeing a man blind from birth, they were absolutely certain that the blindness was the result of someone’s sin; they just weren’t sure whether it was the sin of the blind man or his parents. Christ’s answer— “neither this man nor his parents sinned”— must’ve stunned them. Instead, God allowed this to happen so that Christ could heal him, and thereby “the work of God might be displayed.” That is, this man was born blind so that Christ could heal him that day, where the entire episode would be included in John’s Gospel, in order that every generation of people may be reminded of who Christ is (i.e., the Son of God) and His power and love.
Of course, nothing Jesus said that day nullifies the view that sin can cause sickness. After all, Christ told an invalid man whom He just healed, “Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you” (Jn. 5:14). But since finite humans cannot know why people get sick, we shouldn’t be so nosy to figure it out. Instead, we should “mourn with those who mourn” (Rom. 12:15) and pray that “the sick person” will get “well” (James 5:15).
Is there, then, no room to talk about why someone gets sick? If you sincerely believe that there may be a spiritual cause, then pray that the sick person will bring it up first. For that to transpire, it is imperative that what is taught in James 5:13-16 becomes part of our thought process. Read it today when you are well so that if you ever get quite sick, you can ask whether an unrepentant heart is its root cause. If so, repent.
Prayer: Dear God, I praise You for being such a kind and compassionate God. While we are busy passing judgment under the rubric of being discerning, You are always defending and caring for us. Help me not to sin, but when I do, prompt my heart to repent immediately. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Jude 1
Lunch Break Study
Read James 5: 13-16: Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Questions to Consider
- What is the undeniable premise of this passage?
- What should be part of our thought process when we find ourselves with an illness?
- How should we respond to someone who has fallen sick? Is there someone in your life who needs a visit from you?
- While sin is not the cause of every sickness, it is in some cases; therefore, sin should not be automatically ruled out as a factor in one’s sickness.
- It is always insensitive for someone to tell a gravely ill person that this happened due to his or her sin. I think it is better for the sick individual to ask God whether some unrecognized and/or unrepentant sin is responsible for the sickness. If the person sincerely believes that that’s not the case, then I would leave that alone (at least at the moment).
- We pay a visit and pray for them. And if the sick person wants to discuss the topic of why this happened, then we can read James 5:13-16, after which we may add, “The only person who can know whether your sickness is the result of sin is you; why don’t you, therefore, prayerfully think about it. If there is nothing to it, then praise God. We will continue to pray for your healing.”
You probably know people who are sick right now. Would you take a moment to pray that their health would improve? Also, would you also pray, in the case that unrecognized sins are involved, that the sick person would pray, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts?” (Ps. 139:23)?