When God Doesn’t Live Up To Billing

Matthew 11:1-13:58


When God Doesn’t Live Up To Billing

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

Go Deep: 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 our 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 unshakable hope of 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 similar doubts, questions, disappointment and perhaps even anger with God when he didn’t live up to billing. Maybe that’s where you are today. That’s okay—God is big enough to handle your upset—provided you do as John did and be honest about it. 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 then he’ll invite you to trust.

And at the end of the day, you’ll never be disappointed when you trust God. Take to heart what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:3-5,

“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.”

Just Saying…“Bless your uneasiness as a sign that there is still life in you.”  That’s from Dag Hammarskjöld, the Swedish-born Secretary-General of the United Nations, whom President Kennedy called “the greatest statesman of our century.” Not only sign of life, your uneasiness may in fact be the pre-evidence that God is doing a great work in you.  Missionary Frank Laubach wrote, “There is a deep peace that grows out of illness and loneliness and a sense of failure. God cannot get close when everything is delightful. He seems to need these darker hours, these empty-hearted hours, to mean the most to people.”

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