Have you ever thought what a difference two little words can make in your life? Martha and Mary were dear friends of Jesus as was their brother, Lazarus. When Lazarus became ill they sent a message to Jesus that the one “whom Jesus loved” was sick. They knew how much Jesus loved their brother and were confident he would come to his aid. However, Jesus did not arrive soon enough and Lazarus died. When Jesus finally arrived at Martha’s home in Bethany, both sisters were despondent. They did not understand why Jesus had not arrived sooner and in their despair they said, “If only you had been here, Jesus, our brother would not have died.”
If Only…If Only. Two little words that can color our world black: two little words that can plunge us into a quicksand of guilt, pulling us deeper and deeper into a pit of despair.
These are the same words that the friends of a blind man used about his disability in John 9. If only he had not sinned, if only his parents had not sinned, he would not have born blind. This blindness was worse than a death sentence for this man. He was and would be forever dependant on others for his basic physical care. Because of his blindness this man could not work, could not marry, and could have a family. He would never be a respected member of society. He would always be dependent on the charity of others for all his basic needs. He would always be an outcast. But the worse than all that, his blindness also prevented him from having access to God! He was considered unclean in the Jewish religion and would never have the opportunity to worship at the temple the same way a physically whole man would. As far as the world was considered, his was a wasted life. His parents would live for years with the guilt that they had done something to cause this to happen to their son. If only….
Do you live under a cloud of “if onlys”? If only you had not made that business deal. If only you had not bought that house. If only that disease had not robbed you of your normal life. If only you had avoided that car accident.
God is a sovereign and good God. He turns our “if onlys’ into “so that’s”. That is what he did for the blind man. When asked who sinned to cause this man’s blindness, Jesus replied, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (John 9:3) And then Jesus, the light of world, removed this man’s darkness forever and restored his sight. This man was born blind so that God’s glory could be displayed in his life.
And how about Jesus’ friend Lazarus? When told of his illness, Jesus’ said to the disciples, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Jesus purposely waited until Lazarus had died that he might perform the greatest miracle of all; the raising of a dead man.
Sufferings come to all us. Dwelling on the “if onlys” in our life will cause only discouragement and defeat. When we focus in on the “so thats” of our suffering, God is glorified through our sufferings. He uses us and our lives to display his magnificent glory, and we can persevere through our trials knowing they are not without purpose. Praise God today for the “so that’s” he has brought into your life, and revel in the knowledge that you are a masterpiece of God’s glory.