This article is a reprint of an article in the Spring 2018 issue of Inside Journal®, a quarterly newspaper printed and distributed by Prison Fellowship® to correctional facilities across the country.
THE DANGERS OF THE BLAME GAME
My birth on August 1, 1961, was touch-and-go. Though I weighed only three pounds and 11 ounces, I beat the odds and survived. But my brain had been damaged during the delivery, and I was destined to go through life with cerebral palsy.
While an operation at age 6 allowed me to walk (pretty unsteadily) on my own, I would never be able to play competitive sports or do other activities that most people took for granted. My romantic prospects would be, I thought, severely limited. And while I did well in school and was raised in a loving family, my disappointment never quite left me. I often felt like an outsider who made others uncomfortable.
Most people around me probably didn't feel that way, but I did. And this made me embarrassed, angry, and sad. I often asked God—if He existed—"Why me?" In my most jealous moments, as I watched others do things I never could, the question became "Why me and not them?"
WHOSE FAULT IS IT?
Many of us blame ourselves or others for what happens to us. Many a mother will blame herself for a handicapped child. Maybe, she thinks, she did something wrong during the pregnancy. Many a disabled person will question whether he somehow deserves it. Perhaps the condition is proof that God does not love or accept him. Maybe I sinned.
In John 9, we see something similar happening. Jesus saw a blind man, and not just any blind man. The story says that the man was "blind from birth." This would have been a terrifying way to live, particularly in that time and place. Unable to work and earn a living, the blind had to beg.
And while giving to the poor was common among the Jewish people, it probably did little for the self-esteem of those who relied on charity. Beggars probably felt humiliation, frustration, and envy instead of gratitude.
The Bible says that Jesus' disciples went right along in seeking to assign blame. "Who sinned," they asked their teacher, "this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
Jesus, however, didn't join them in this blame game. "It was not because of his sins or his parents' sins," Jesus said. "This happened so the power of God could be seen in him." Then Jesus did three strange things:
- He made some mud, mixing His own saliva with the dust of the ground;
- He rubbed the mixture on the man's eyes; and
- He told the man to wash it off in a nearby pool.
After the man followed Jesus' instructions, the story says he came back able to see. Soon, his spiritual vision would also be clear. The formerly blind man would put his faith in Jesus as his Lord and Savior and have a second chance at life.
A GOOD LOOK IN THE MIRROR
I was a lot like that blind man. Though many people thought I was a "good guy" or even "an inspiration" for the way I made it through life with cerebral palsy, I was becoming more and more aware of my ugly self-pity and bitterness. I figured that if God were real, He was either too busy to care or too weak to help.
Then I started to read the Bible and see who He really was—someone who understands, who opens the eyes of the blind, and who is "full of unfailing love and faithfulness" (John 1:18). Not only that, I saw that Jesus chose to be crucified on a Roman cross to die for my sins. But I also learned that three days later, He rose again, fully alive, proving that my sins were completely paid for.
As with the blind man, Jesus opened my eyes, and I believed. Though all my hateful attitudes didn’t disappear right away—and I am still sometimes extremely hard on myself and others—slowly the scales are falling from my spiritual eyes. Since Jesus, by His death and resurrection, has forgiven and accepted me, I am learning to forgive and accept myself. Little by little, the darkness in my soul is being replaced with His light. Day by day, whatever happens, I am experiencing a peace I never knew before. My eyes have been opened.
But what do you believe about Jesus? Are you ready to really see and receive the second chance He offers?
Stan Guthrie is the author of "God's Story in 66 Verses: Understand the Entire Bible by Focusing on Just One Verse in Each Book." He and Christine, his wife of 30 years, have three children.