The Greater Purpose in Suffering

The Greater Purpose in Suffering can be elusive when we are in the midst of pain or heartache. Long-term or terminal illness seems to have no tangible positive purpose when we are suffering day-to-day. Death of a loved one seems senseless and a waste of a precious life when our heart is breaking and the loss overwhelms us.

But there is a much greater purpose in suffering. The Gospel of John gives us some insight into the Lord’s higher purpose for suffering and hardship, even when hardship starts at birth.

In chapter nine of John’s Gospel account, the story unfolds of a blind man, sightless since birth. Did someone do something that deserved such a seemingly cruel thing to do to an infant? To be born blind? Was there a higher purpose for this suffering? What does Jesus say about it?

the Greater Purpose in Suffering

** Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. **John 9:3

The Lord makes it clear here that illness or disabilities are not our fault. They are a platform for God’s power to be manifested. When that power manifests, it draws people to a decisive moment. They have to choose between faith in God or rejecting Him.

When the now-seeing blind man was questioned by religious leaders on how he was suddenly able to see, this is what he said….

 ** He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight. ** John 9:11

+The little bit that this man knew and understood about the One who healed him, he shared with others. And in those few words, he gave the gospel message.

+He shares the name of Jesus ( Savior)

+Jesus’ life touched him.

+Jesus gave specific instructions that he had to do if he was going to receive his sight (be washed by the blood of Christ.

+Obedience to Jesus’ words was needed. ( the Bible)

+The blind man’s obedience gave him his sight.  (He obeyed Jesus, believed what He told him to do and what would be the result of obeying. His cleansing gave him his sight because the cleansing, the obedience and his faith are all needed for salvation. )

The now not-blind man goes on to say in verse 17 that **He is a prophet**. Even with all that Jesus did for him he did not have full understanding of who He was. Because full understanding is not needed for salvation and spiritual healing. We only need faith (blind faith), and obedience. These two will bring the cleansing from the blood of Christ. We are ‘washed’ in the pool of Jesus’ blood, receiving our own spiritual sight through the same process as this man did.

So, the Greater Purpose in Suffering? What is it exactly?

The Gospel continues in chapter 10:10b, ** I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. **

The man in this story is born blind. His life had limitations.

All of us are born blind. We all lacked spiritual understanding. None of us had any idea who was standing before us the day we were cleansed of our sins.

But Jesus stepped into our lives to give us our spiritual sight and understanding and to cleanse us of all of our sin so that we, and the blind man from this story, could have a life that is abundantly different from our old one.

Think about it. Did the lights go on in our minds and eyes when we became Christians? Were we able to see so many things in life with a whole new perspective? Did we not feel like we could see clearly for the first time? Isn’t our sight so much better now? Is it not an abundant life compared to how we felt and how we lived before our encounter with Christ?

 The answer is a resounding YES!!! Because the greater purpose for suffering is to bring us to an encounter with the Savior! The One who can heal us of all of our heart diseases and give us a new vision on life.

A bonus greater purpose in our suffering?

** And many believed on him there**–the ripple effect.

When others see the obvious transformation in our lives, it draws others to the same experience. They want what we have. The blind man was just the tip of the iceberg in our story. I imagine that what happened to him was talked about again and again in his little town. Every day his neighbors saw him walking around, running maybe, and wondered about this Jesus that healed him. They must have talked about it at the river while washing their clothes. And in the market buying their food. What was the word that stood out in every story?



Jesus did it.

Jesus has the power to heal.

The blind man’s transformation triggered a hunger in all of them for Jesus to heal them from their own infirmities. He was the instrument to bring many others to Christ.

** I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. **

So, the question to all of us is…..was the change in us when Jesus gave us our sight as radical as it was for this blind man?

If it wasn’t so radical, that doesn’t mean it didn’t work for us. It may just that our process was slower. Maybe we were not drastically changed the day we got saved, but now after years of Him working in us and peeling off the layers from our eyes, we are different. People notice our strength in trials, or they notice our generosity, our willingness to help others. It’s possible they see us being diligent, persevering year after year. Or they see the contrasts in the stability or maturity in our children that theirs may not have. Maybe they see our lasting marriage and their divorce.

Somehow, in some way, our “sight” is evident to others.

Throughout the gospels, we see Jesus constantly showing salvation through the lives of His creation. The blind man is just one of them. But he is a great showcase for salvation and the possibilities that can come from our suffering.

There is always a greater purpose in suffering. God’s purpose. For His glory and for the salvation of those around us.

Let me know what you think!