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?” 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 11:2-6
I hear a recurring anthem among friends lately – one of despair, fatigue and uncertainty. And if you ask why, I’ll simply tell you to take a look around you. Our nation and our world are imploding, disasters abound, societies and families are crumbling. Many are asking, “Where is God?” Theirs is a crisis of faith.
We’re often ashamed to admit when we have a crisis of faith as if it makes us inferior to all those other Christians who perpetually seem to have it together. But as a friend put it recently, “My greatest struggle is inside of me.” That’s the struggle we don’t see, and it takes a brave soul to admit to it.
Remarkably, John the Baptist had his own crisis of faith. He had prophesied of Jesus, even calling Him the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29) upon seeing Him. Yet John eventually found himself in prison under King Herod instead of being freed from Roman bondage under the kingdom of the King of Kings. This was not what he expected.
But when he sent his disciples to verify Jesus was, in fact, the promised Messiah, Jesus didn’t reply with contempt. He replied with patience and truth. And when John’s disciples walked away to tell John what Jesus said – that He was, in fact, the Promised One – Jesus didn’t take the opportunity to slam John. Au contraire. He praised him.
“Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.” – Matthew 11:11
This may take the casual reader by surprise. How could John doubt? How could Jesus not take offense? Both questions can be answered in a single word: flesh.
John, though a great man, was still just a man. And Jesus, while God, was also man. He shared in our human experience. He knew suffering, pain and even temptation.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. – Hebrews 4:15
As He suffered the most brutal death known to man while enduring the scorn of sinners beside and below Him – all the while taking our sins upon His sinless self – Jesus Himself asked the question that resonates among us today: Where is God?
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” – Mark 15:34
If you’re having a crisis of faith, take comfort in knowing you’re in good company, and you need not be ashamed. Jesus knows your struggles because He shared them. And today He offers you the same antidote He offered John the Baptist: His Word. Immerse yourself in it as you pour out your heart to Him. He knows, He hears, He cares.
Our world is changing; our God is unchanging. May His truth be our anchor and His victory our hope.
The Lord is near. – Philippians 4:5