in response to a dear friend questioning God’s presence and attentiveness in her life:
You cited Matthew 11:3, “‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting or should we look for another?’” Keep reading. What word did Jesus send back to John? Verse 4-6, “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 cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. BLESSED IS THE MAN WHO DOES NOT FALL AWAY ON ACCOUNT OF ME.”“
That last sentence is the important part. John, self-proclaimed as the disciple whom Jesus loved, was in prison, about to be beheaded. He, knowing Jesus’ affections as great as He did, having no doubt of Christ’s love for him, doubts God, asking for the deliverance in the same way it had previously been given him. And how does Jesus reply? He essentially says, “John, take into account all the things that I am doing. That WE are doing.” and when He says “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me,” He’s essentially telling John that he’s not coming to save him this time. He’s saying, “Buddy, you’re not getting out of this one, you’re gonna die, because that’s what it’s time for. But don’t fall away from your faith in my goodness just because I’m not doing what you want me to.”
A lot of times we say that having faith is believing God for provision. But even more than that, having faith in God is simply BELIEVING HIS GOODNESS FOR THE WORLD. Because there will be times when we don’t get what we want, or what we think we deserve, or what we think is coming. Sometimes things are prophesied that don’t come true in the time we expect them to. And sometimes it causes us to lose heart in a BIG way. And we think, God, where is my provision? All these things you’ve promised, where are they? Why would You have me to be confused? Why would you have me to be in need? And where the eff are you?
We don’t get to tell God what to do, and I KNOW you know that. But sometimes we forget. God often works in ways that make no sense. I have often been told that, when faced with dueling choices or situations, the path that makes the least sense is often the one blessed by the Spirit. There is a timing and method much higher than anything we can grasp or conceptualize that we are unknowingly operating by. God knows our hearts and is working to make our lives progress in such a way that makes us gain the maximum benefit. The things we go through are teaching us skills that we have yet to see the purpose for. The things you are going through now, the things all of the people you listed above are going through now are meant to bring you to a higher understanding.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes, and this is a long passage, so forgive me, beginning in 11:21b, “What anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about…Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again…I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked…Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?” (11: 21b, 23, 27, 29…I skipped around a bit, but was careful not to misconstrue context, feel free to read the passage in its entirety, I just took out some deeper details.)
Paul was crazy, undoubtedly. He was absolutely off his rocker in his faith in God. I think sometimes his gumption and conviction surprised even his own self! He didn’t understand how he could go through trial after trial and not fall. But that’s what we are called to. We are called to be human. To know defeat. To know pain. And to rejoice in that because that’s what’s been dealt us, not out of spite, but as part of a greater plan we know nothing of.
The things that knock us down are often the things that show us how strong we are. Ponder this for a second. You may be low low low right now, but could you turn from Christ? Could you renounce your beliefs? Could you say that God is not? I doubt it. Christ’s hold on our hearts is most evident when we least expect, when we have every reason to let go and WE JUST CAN’T. There have been times when I’m been on my butt wasted and STILL proclaiming the glory of the Lord because that is where my heart beats. And that is where your heart beats too, dear. And maybe you have been thrown into the lion’s den and made to struggle but it is only because He NEEDS YOU THERE to fulfill a plan that NO ONE ELSE CAN. You are so precious to God. And He hasn’t left you, not at all. Look to your left side, He’s peeking over your shoulder. He’s literally got his hand on you. I can see if and you can feel it. You know his heart beats in your chest. And He adores you for that. He loves that you’re not afraid to challenge Him, to try and hold Him accountable for His promises. And He will come through for you in due time. It may not be this week, or it may be tomorrow, but He is your King and Savior and he has called you HIS and has proclaimed a future victory over you.
And He’s not mad at you for questioning, that’s a big thing He wants you to stop struggling with. Command answers. Rebuke doubt. Be faithful. See God’s work in the world, in your own life and beyond. Rejoice in life and the love you’ve been given. Everyone can see Christ’s love in you. He sees you as this magnificent warrior, always ready to suit up for battle, always ready to fight the good fight. But rest is coming. You are not going to be weathered and worn when He comes to fight for you. He’s not going to let it get that far. He promises. He’s using you to show His power to others. Your conviction speaks of His might.
As Paul said, “‘To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU, FOR MY POWER IS MADE PERFECT IN WEAKNESS.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. FOR WHEN I AM WEAK, THEN I AM STRONG.” (2 Cor. 12: 7-10)
You’re going to get through this. I promise.