I was sitting in my office, a woman who I have been counseling had tears rolling down her cheeks. She had lost someone dear, someone irreplaceable. She talked about the miracles others have had. She asked me why Jesus would not perform a miracle for her. My heart broke.
So far, being a pastor is most difficult when you don’t have answers and often times I find myself not having answers. I don’t know what He is doing. I don’t know why He doesn’t rain down miracles for those crying out for them. But I also don’t want to even guess what the Sovereign Lord is doing because I can’t even come close to understanding it myself. His ways are always higher than I can fathom.
John the Baptist was sitting in his prison cell (Matthew 11:1-15) and sends a message to Jesus. He hears about all the wonderful things that Jesus is doing and he questions, some say he doubts when he asks, “are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
Sitting there waiting to die, John wonders why the one who is Promised isn’t saving him, too. Many times, Jesus’ own disciples asked when He was going to bring His political power and his answers somewhat disappoint what they expected. Jesus is most certainly bringing His reign and Kingdom but not with a political charge but with a servant’s cross.
John was merely wondering, perhaps even jealous, why people were receiving miracles and he was suffering. Suffering causes people to either be strengthen in their faith or it leads to doubts cutting their faith down to where it is almost gone. In times of suffering, we like to look at the waves of the situation, much like Peter did as he was walking on the water towards Jesus (Matthew 14:22-32). One look at the waves and Peter was sinking.
But how Peter and John respond to their doubt, their “waves”, is what needs to be looked at. They didn’t continue to sink or doubt but they reached for the one who was capable of saving them. John asks, “are you the one?” and Peter says, “Lord save me!”
Neither continued in their doubt. Peter could have tried to swim on his own. He was a fisherman, I am going to take the educated guess that he knew how to swim. But he didn’t try to swim, He reached for the one who was capable of saving Him. Sometimes, we see Jesus reach out His hand and pull us back up as He does with Peter. Other times, we still sit in our suffering but perhaps our doubt is what vanishes and trusting God is what comes to be amongst the suffering as it is with John.
Jesus responds to John telling him of the great miracles but says, “blessed is he who does not fall away on account of me.” I used to think that Jesus said, “No” to saving John physically from prison. But now, the more I think about the more I see it that Jesus was allowing free will to continue. Herod Antipas put John in prison, would soon kill him. In Matthew 14:9, it is written that Herod regretted it… Jesus doesn’t stop sinners from sinning but He does ask us who are believers to keep trusting Him, keep trusting that He will redeem our sin and the sin others do to us. Here in the sin fallen world, we will find ourselves hurt by the world… but we must choose to trust and glorify Jesus through our suffering. Yes, we may have moments of doubt but let’s start doubting our doubts and keep our eyes steadfast on the resurrected King. We find true communion with Christ when we suffer in the world for those of the world. But we also know suffering and death are not our ending. Thanks be to God.