Some Christians believe that every trial has been brought to them or others personally by God as a test, in order to bring to light something they need to work on—some sin, some neglect or blind spot. Is this always true?
Both parents must have wondered all their lives what sin they had committed when their precious baby boy was born blind. To have to take care of a child that had never been able to see and would never see must have been a serious trial. There was so much they couldn’t share with him, so many more dangers he had to face. Yet, through much tribulation, he made it into manhood and into the only job he could find—begging.
And so it was that he sat asking for alms on the day that Christ and His disciples passed by. The disciples questioned Christ according to the typical understanding of the day—was it the man himself who had sinned or his parents? They were sure sin was at fault in some way and that someone had a big lesson they needed to learn.
Christ must have stunned them with His response, for He said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him” (John 9:3 John 9:3Jesus answered, Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
American King James Version×). Then He proceeded to heal the blind man and later made him a disciple.
In life there are always lessons we can learn, and we all have sins we need to repent of. But there isn’t always a cause-and-effect relationship between specific trials and sins. There is no justification whatsoever for anyone to think that someone who is enduring a trial has some terrible sin they need to repent of or some huge lesson they need to learn! There is no possible way that the man born blind could have sinned before birth and been the cause of his trial. The fact that the disciples would even ask such a question shows how they had been deceived into thinking that sin had to be involved.
The truth is, we live in an imperfect world where accidents and tragedy are just part of being human. God cannot form a barrier around us so that we never experience those things common to man—we wouldn’t be able to empathize and we’d be unbearably smug and proud. What we always need to learn in trials is that this world is not a friendly place, that God has a far better future for us and that we are mortal and need God desperately.
Sometimes, of course, there is also a personal lesson we need to learn or a character flaw we need to correct—God does chasten us (Revelation 3:19 Revelation 3:19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
American King James Version×).
But, like the man born blind, trials can simply be used to show God’s glory and power and have nothing to do with personal sin. UN