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Sermon for John 9:1-41   -   Why Did God Allow That to Happen?
Lent 4
           

Tragedy can strike so quickly and capriciously. While going about our every day lives, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, the world can be changed. As a nation we have been living with the awful reality since 9-11. Thousands killed for no reason by complete strangers, who assumed, somehow in their mind, they were doing some good for this world. Or take the tsunami in Asia. A quarter of a million killed by a freak wave from an ocean floor earthquake. In Wichita Kansas this week a Lutheran church experienced an absolutely gut wrenching tragedy. This Middle America church learned that Dennis L. Rader, the church council chair, scout leader, and 30 year member was the BTK Killer. In our private lives we have all experienced tragedy. And if you have avoided tragedy at this point in your life thank God that you have been spared, but consider your self lucky as well. Recognize it is only a matter of time.

For we all ask this question at one time or another in one form or another:

why did god allow that to happen? Most of us know that God does not CAUSE tragedy. The Bible states clearly that God does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men (Lamentations 3:33) .The greater problem for most believers is this: Why does God ALLOW such awful things to happen?

Jesus' disciples asked our Lord this thorny question 2000 years ago. They met a man one day who had been born blind. In the first century, most people believed that all suffering was the result of sin. So the disciples asked Jesus, "Who sinned in this case, this blind man or his parents?"

There was even one school of thought that believed that a person could sin prior to birth, while still in the mother's womb. Imagine that! "Tell us, Jesus," they begged, "why was this man born blind?" Jesus did not respond with a neat, simple answer to the problem of human suffering. And I am not going to serve you a simplistic batch of biblical stew that will cause you to declare, "Aha, finally I have solved the mystery of evil and suffering in this world."

I am suspicious of anyone who talks too glibly about this age-old mystery. I recall a humbling episode from a British movie entitled, "Whistle in the Wind." A group of kids had experienced the death of their pet kitten. They had prayed fervently that the cat would get well, but instead it died. They couldn't understand this. So, they went in search of the local vicar or pastor. They found him in a teashop, taking a morning break, enjoying his tea and newspaper. They asked him, "Why did God let our cat die?" The good pastor was not delighted to be interrupted with the matter of a deceased cat. But out of duty he laid aside his paper and launched into a long, complex, theological response to this question. The children stood and listened intently. When he finished he wished them well and went back to his newspaper. The children walked away somewhat bewildered. One little boy, holding his older sister's hand, looked up at her and said, "He doesn't know, does he?" How perceptive children can be. Never in this world will we understand all the mystery surrounding suffering. But with God's help we can gain some helpful insights. That is my purpose this morning.

1. Notice first that Jesus does not answer the first question: Why was this man born blind?

2. Notice second that he answers this question: What good can this tragedy produce?

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