“When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’” Matthew 11:2-3 (NIV)
I sat on the hardwood floor of our kitchen, back pressed against the wall, with my head in my hands and the tears flowing. I wanted to trust God for the new life within me, but my past losses were threatening my current peace.
After I had trouble in previous pregnancies, this one had me trembling. What was supposed to be the happiest time was the hardest time, and I felt scared of what each day would bring.
It is one thing to say God will work everything together for your good. But what do you do when you’re afraid God may not show up?
Sometimes our life circumstances don’t make sense. We wonder what God is up to, and more pressing, we may even doubt and wonder if God will come through at all. But doubt is not the same as unbelief — as we see most beautifully in the example of John the Baptist, who found himself suffering in prison because of his allegiance to God. In a moment of questioning and doubt, John wondered if God would come through for him.
“When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’” (Matthew 11:2-3)
Like every faithful Jew, John knew that the coming of the Messiah meant good news for the poor, healing for the brokenhearted and “freedom for the captives” (Isaiah 61:1, NIV). But would Jesus come through for him? Now?
In Jesus’ response to John in Matthew 11:4-6, Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1. But He omitted one very important phrase. He said nothing about the prisoners being set free.
“Jesus replied, ‘Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.’” (Matthew 11:4-6, NIV)
From Jesus’ response, John understood that his faith, which got him imprisoned in the first place, would not set him free from the prison cell he found himself in. While Jesus’ ministry would certainly include setting captives free, what John was expecting would not be what he would experience. And Jesus didn’t come through in the way John had hoped.
But John’s story does not end in despair. He did not fall into the trap of unbelief. Nor did he “stumble,” or fall away, on account of Jesus. Scripture does not indicate that John’s life, unlike others’ (for example, Judas Iscariot’s), ended in betrayal or disbelief. On the contrary, Jesus alluded to John later in His ministry as an example of righteousness. (Matthew 21:32)
What we can learn from John is that he moved not from uncertainty to certainty but from uncertainty to trust. He learned what we must all learn: In God’s hands, even what seems senseless is sacred and full of meaning and purpose.
After that tearful day in the kitchen, God showed Himself faithful to me. He reminded me through His Word that He is trustworthy and good, no matter the outcome of our circumstances. He invited me to lean on Him as my Rock, to seek comfort in Him as my heavenly Father and to trade my fears for His peace.
Friend, I’m not sure what you are facing in your life today. But if you are struggling to give your hopes and hurts to God, you are in good company. We’re all limping along, learning to trust Jesus in all the things.
The good news is that Jesus not only suffered for us, but He suffers with us. He enters our pain. And no matter the final outcome of any situation, Jesus gives us the grace to walk faithfully under the weight of our cross and into His glory.
Dear Jesus, thank You for being beside me through every season of my life. Even when I don’t understand what You are doing, help me to trust that Your love for me is unending and Your plan for me is good. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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