Christ Changed the Narrative

Realizing What God Was Doing All Along

Paul Zahl / 6.24.21

As if it were divinely planned all along(!), the devotional for today in Daily Grace coincides directly with theme of latest episode of PZ’s podcast —  our personal narratives are only 15% correct. To order a copy, of Daily Grace, click here.

June 24

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him.” (John 9:1-3)

In the account of this miraculous healing, there is a “front-story” and a backstory.

The “front-story” is of an adult man who was born with a major disability, a “birth defect,” which Christ fixes.

The backstory concerns the cause of the man’s disability. Had his parents done something wrong that caused their son to be born blind? Or had the son somehow erred, maybe in the womb or in an earlier life — to speak “Eastern” for a sec — and had that mistake caused, by way of retribution or karma, this terrible physical consequence? The world in which Jesus was operating wanted to know. His disciples wanted to know.

Christ changed “the narrative” completely. He offered a backstory, behind the “front-story,” which confuted the disciples’ way of looking at it. The only true backstory would have to be God’s Backstory. The cause of the man’s blindness was God’s plan, 25 years or so after the man’s birth, to unveil His healing character through His incarnate Son on that particular day. We could ask a thousand questions about symptoms, causes, and timing, but the answer Christ gave is, “That’s the Way God Planned It” (Billy Preston, 1969).

Apply this to yourself. I can give you a thousand guesses, surmises, and suggestions concerning why my life’s the way it is and why it’s turned out the way it has. But the only bona fide insight, at least from the Gospel of John, is that God planned it that way. Ultimately — though not necessarily in the moment of the pain at its worst — that insight, concerning God’s transcendent plan and timing, is consoling to the max. May I recommend it?