Two weeks ago, I was asked to preach a message in children’s ministry about the power of testimony. The sermon was to be based upon the story of the man who had been born blind but was healed by Jesus recorded in John 9. Whilst reviewing the chapter in my study time, the third verse in the passage began to speak to my heart in the most comforting way; it read:”’Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.’ You see, Jesus in this verse is answering to the flawed mindset of the disciples, who were convinced that this man’s blindness was a punishment for sin, whether for his own or for those of his parents. Jesus informs them, however, that sin was not to blame; inversely, God’s intentionality was to be accredited. For the longest time, almost as long as I have been alive, I’d thought of myself somewhat like the disciples thought of the blind man. I didn’t understand why I was the way that I was, I felt cursed. I considered myself a mistake, a disgrace to God and to my family, to society. I thought that my existence was a bothersome inconvenience that no one would ever want to deal with; I thought that I was the word “abomination” incarnate, a detestable, odorous thing in the presence of God and man… So far, I’ve been saying, “I thought”, but the truth is, sometimes I still think. That is, at least, until today. During prayer this morning, I went and talked to a friend of mine. I asked him to pray for me; I wanted him to pray for God to remove the thing that I hated most about myself, to radically change everything about me that causes so much distress in my life. I wanted to fit in with other people around me, to know what it feels like to be authentic without fear of scorn or pressure to remain under suppression. I wanted security. I wanted God to make me normal. My friend, however, responded in a manner that I didn’t expect: “What if God doesn’t want you to be normal?’ He posed. “I know you want him to make you ‘normal’ so that your life can be easier, but a lot of the time, the things God does in our lives doesn’t make them easier, it actually makes them harder. What if God wants to use the hard things to make you, not normal, but extraordinary. What if God wants to use you to show all those people in the world who are going through the exact same thing as you that there is a hope, that there is something to live for.” I’ve come to believe that God never intended for me to be normal… He intended for me to be useful, to be a powerful vessel of love, a standard for the compassion and power of Christ, extraordinary. God wants to present me as an example to all those who are doubting their worth, who have never been able to conceive their own beauty. There’s someone out there like me, who’s ready to give up, who’s ready to end everything, like I have been so many times, because they’ve lived their whole life in pain… I think God wants me to show them that I made the choice to keep going, and that I don’t regret it.
“‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus,‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”’