When God Doesn’t Live Up To Billing

Read Matthew 11

“Are you the one who was to come, or should
we expect someone else?”
(Matthew 11:3)

Thoughts… Let’s be honest—we’ve all been deeply disappointed with God. Sometimes He doesn’t live up to our expectations. A prayer doesn’t get answered the way we want, when we want: a healing doesn’t occur, a job is lost, a relationship goes sour, a marriage isn’t saved, a loved one refuses salvation, a child dies…

That’s when faith really gets tested. It is easy to believe in the good times—when things are going great, prayers are getting answered, and God is obviously on our team. But just cut off the flow of blessing, squeeze our faith a little, push us out of the comfort zone—then take our spiritual temperature and see if we’re still aflame with faith.

John the Baptist was there. He had obeyed the call of God early in his life as the forerunner of the Messiah. He had arranged his whole world around announcing Jesus as Israel’s Messiah. He had lived an austere life, preached his heart out, courageously confronted the religious establishment, boldly challenged sinful hearts, and called Israel to national repentance, all to prepare the way for Jesus. He expected his faithfulness to God and obedience to the call would usher in the Kingdom of God when Jesus showed up and launched his messianic ministry.

But now he was in jail. He was in a pretty serious situation that in a few days would lead to his beheading. And Jesus was out there preaching to small crowds, doing a few miracles here and there, and not taking this Messiah thing very seriously. John was disappointed, to say the least.

Did you notice how Jesus handled John’s disappointment and doubt? Not with a brow beating, not with a rebuke, not with anger, Jesus simply reaffirmed John and spoke about his value in God’s eyes. Jesus understood where John was coming from.

Jesus also understood that God’s timing was way different than John’s. John wanted the Kingdom now, and when it didn’t happened, he questioned. So Jesus redirected John’s faith—he encouraged him to take his eyes off circumstances and put them back where they belonged: On the undeniable evidence of God’s activity; on the unshakeable hope God’s Kingdom; on the unbreakable promise of God’s Word; on the irrefutable goodness of God’s character. And then to trust!

We’ve all had those kind of doubts, questions, disappointment and perhaps even anger with God when he doesn’t live up to billing. Maybe that’s where you are today. That’s okay—God is big enough handle your upset—provided you do as John did: Own up to your upset.

God won’t give you a beat down if you’ll come to him with a humble and honest heart. He’ll simply reaffirm your inestimable value and remind you of his everlasting love—and invite you to trust.

And at the end of the day, you’ll never be disappointed when you trust God.

“We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that
suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character;
and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us,
because God has poured out his love into our hearts
by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
(Romans 5:3-5)

Prayer… Lord I believe you are the One. Now when circumstances set themselves against, me, help my unbelief.

One More Thing… “Bless your uneasiness as a sign that there is still life in you.” — Dag Hammarskjald

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2 thoughts on “When God Doesn’t Live Up To Billing

  1. I can’t believe how many times I’ve read through that passage and never really grasped how much John the Baptist must have been struggling with doubt and disappointment. Perhaps I should know better by now, as it seems like the closer Biblical figures got to God, the more likely they were to experience these sometimes shocking episodes of “Where is God now?!?!?!” For example, who can possibly imagine the doubt and despair the disciples must have felt after the crucifixion – fellowshipping with the Son of God one moment and then watching him being tortured to death and his body torn to shreds the next moment. It’s really inconceivable what they must have gone through. Little did they know that fellowship with the resurrected Christ – an experience so profoundly glorious and wonderful – was just around the corner. Lord, help us to learn from these accounts in your Word. May we trust you in those dark times, knowing that you love us and always prove yourself faithful in the end.

  2. “The closer Biblical figures got to God, the more likely they were to experience these sometimes shocking episodes of ‘Where is God now?'” I think you are so right. How about Elijah? He had just called down fire from heaven and eliminated 850 false prophets…and he expected revival to sweep the land. Yet when he found himself running for his life in the very next moment, he got depressed (see I Kings 19). Discouragement and disappointment with God are more common that we let on (just read a little ways into the Psalms for confirmation)…yet it is at the moment of disappointment that God tends to step in and redirect our thoughts toward his higher purpose and plan.