Your Life, His Glory
From him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Roman 11:36 (NIV)
Sometimes we look at the painful or difficult circumstances in life and we wonder why.
Why, God, have you made my life this way? Am I being punished for some sort of sin in my life?
When I think of the man who was born blind, and Jesus’s disciples assumed it was the result of his sin or his parents’ sin, I remember that Jesus’s answer reveals an important truth for our lives as well. Jesus said that the man was born blind so that the glory of God could be revealed in His life—and then Jesus healed the man.
Here’s the truth that we should meditate on: Sometimes you are made to go through things because it really isn’t about you—apart from the fact that God chose to use you to demonstrate something He wants to show or to say something He wants to communicate.
Faith adds this additional reality: that your whole life is really for the glory of God.
Many times, the thing you are going through in life is not a judgment because you did something wrong. Like the man born blind, God doesn’t see you as the world sees you.
- You aren’t twisted or an outcast.
- You aren’t incapable or insufficient.
- You aren’t minimized or non-essential.
- You aren’t cursed or left out of God's goodness.
You are just being positioned to show people that God can work a miracle and that God can turn conditions around, defying all human explanations.
Maybe your circumstances aren’t about you. Maybe they are about showing the world His glory.
To Display God’s Works
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
John 9:1–3 (NIV)
The blind man could probably hear Jesus and His disciples approaching. When he heard one of them ask, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” he immediately knew who they were talking about.
The disciples made a theological assumption that somebody in this man’s bloodline must have grossly disobeyed God for this man to be born blind. Either that, or the man himself deserved punishment for some sin.
But Jesus makes a strange statement in response to their perplexing question: “This man was born blind so that God's work might be displayed in his life.”
I wonder how many of us could appropriate that answer in our lives. I wonder how many of us could embrace the idea that perhaps our journey has had twists and turns, highs and lows, experiences and encounters that could never have unfolded any other way because God wanted to display Himself through our circumstances.
Our lives are shaped, suited, and situated to best reflect the work that God wants to display. This ought to certainly expand how we accept, embrace, and steward some of the conditions of our lives. We can find healthy emotional space for some things if we accept that it might not be about our ease and comfort, but about God’s power and work.
Maybe I need to stop thinking that the conditions I’m in are a curse or a punishment, and maybe I should hear Jesus when He says, “You haven't been cursed, nor have you been judged. You are not deficient. You're not inadequate. You haven't been overlooked or lessened. You are not skipped over or viewed as less than.”
Your journey, the space you occupy, the struggles that are unique to you, the stresses and conditions that you would so prefer not to have—all of these are gifted to your life so that, through your life, God may show His power, demonstrate His work, extend His will, and invite people into His way.
What Is Your Big Need?
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
Mark 10:51 (NIV)
The blind man, Bartimaeus, didn't vacillate when asked the question, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Do you know how hard it would be for most of us to answer that question? The difficulty would arise not because we don't have answers, but because we haven't narrowed them down to the most significant need. If Jesus had offered us that same invitation, some of us would probably respond, “How many choices do I get?”
But Bartimaeus lived every day having resolved what his big need was in life. He didn't pause or waver: “Lord, I want to see.”
Here is perhaps one of the most significant questions you’ll have to answer relative to your relationship with Jesus: What is your big need in life? And before you answer, just know it's never based on temporal or human positioning. It's not about status among others or pursuit of riches or climbing the social ladder. It is always and will forever be a matter of the spirit. It'll always be worked out in the heart, in the mind, and in the soul.
So my question to you is “What's your big need?”
- Is it to own the uniqueness of your personality as destined by God, so you can stop role-playing for other people based on their expectations?
- Is it to accept the path that God wills for your life and the need to center yourself on that road?
- Is it to stop seeing the movements of your life as accidental and to start seeing them as purposeful and providential?
- Is it to learn how to embrace and interpret everything through spiritual lenses and define God in it all?
- Is it to learn that even your pain and your pressure are carrying gifts from God that can only be delivered in the package that has caused your tears?
- Is it to walk in rhythm with the way God has ordered your steps and to resist the pull and push of other people?
- Is it to stop hiding your anointing, stop side-stepping your calling, and to embrace what God wants for you?
What's your big need in life? I promise you that if you answer that, you have also found your big why in life.
Holding on to “You”
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Psalm 139:14 (NIV)
Here is how you prevent yourself from losing yourself in life:
Find the “you” that faith informs and build your mission from there.
That’s how you keep from losing yourself in your relationships, in your search for economic status, in your place of employment, in your seeking of titles, or in your regret of having lost them in gross disappointments, calamity, catastrophe, or crisis.
Again, to guard yourself against losing yourself, you must find yourself in the faith that informs you and then build your mission from there.
Whatever your current station in life, your position in the marketplace, your acceptance or disapproval in certain circles, your physical strength or weakness—none of these things are threat enough or power enough to make you lose “you.” Age, potential decline, loss of love, destruction of relationships, betrayal by others that you’ve trusted, heartbreak—all of the things that take from us as they pass through our lives (some of which may even develop strongholds in certain seasons) never have to result in you losing “you.” That’s because not one thing you can experience—from devastation to utter disappointment—can snatch you if you keep your faith informed by the promises of God, remind yourself of the power of God, and settle into your role in the purposes of God.
As long as I believe there is a God, as long as I know that He loves me, and as long as I remember that He has ordered my steps and is working things together for my good, I don't ever have to lose myself. This is true despite tricky seasons and tough predicaments.
Fight to keep “you” because you were divinely and intentionally imagined. Fight to keep “you” because you are blessed with a unique experience that God has ordered only for you. Fight to keep “you” because your voice and your gifts and your ministry are desperately needed. Fight to keep “you” because you are worth it.
Don’t Lose Yourself
Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Mark 10:46-52 (NIV)
Bartimaeus was a blind man caught between worlds in so many ways. He was caught living between Jews—their customs and traditions, their religious practices and their faith beliefs—and the Romans, who occupied the land, oppressed the people, and fed their own greed at the people's expense.
Bartimaeus was caught between his own physical conditions. He could see, with his inner eye, his need for Jesus and his need for a miracle, yet he was unable to physically see.
And Bartimaeus was also caught between people's tolerance and their ambivalence. They didn't mind him sitting by the roadside begging. They could tolerate that. But they didn't want to deal with his desires to see or his belief in Jesus's ability to heal.
Yes, Blind Bartimaeus, sitting by the roadside, was caught between worlds, caught between conditions, caught between people's tolerance and ambivalence.
It's easy to lose yourself when living in that kind of middle space, isn't it? It’s easy for the culture’s tension around you to seep in and become part of you. You feel obligated to choose sides, even though both sides may have virtue and vice. It’s so easy to see and sense both sides of an issue that you end up losing yourself between sight and blindness. It’s easy to lose yourself when those around you are both irritated and tolerant of your very presence and existence. They encourage your roadside hustle as long as it doesn't interfere with their mainstream ambitions.
Bartimaeus had lost a lot. He had lost his sight. He had no competitive station in life. He, along with the other Jews, had lost cultural power amid the Roman occupation. And when he started crying out and began to be hushed by the crowd, it appeared he had lost his right to speak up for his choices. But Bartimaeus kept crying out for Jesus, proving that amid all he had lost, he hadn't lost himself. He hadn't lost his voice, his choice, his fight, or his determination. He was still there. Even if behind blind eyes, he was still there.
My exhortation to you today is that, with a confidence in the Lord like Bartimaeus had, don't lose yourself in the constant struggles and battles you must face in this life. Don't lose yourself amid pain and heartbreak and disappointment and regret. Don’t lose yourself.