Surprised by God's promises

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?”

It's the iconic horror movie -- the protagonist outside at night creeping hesitantly toward the corner of some building by the light of the moon. As he silently approaches the corner, a shadow falls on the wall. Towering over him in silhouette is nothing short of a monster, hairy, with huge, snarling jowls. Suspenseful music reaches its climax as the creature rounds the corner and ... turns out to be a mouse. Or something equally benign.

Have you ever been surprised by how something turned out? Something you thought would look one way and turned out completely different?

John the Baptist knew the feeling. Matthew 11 finds John imprisoned by Herod the Great. As he sat in a dank cell, he must have been wondering how his situation fit into God's will. If he was supposed to "prepare the way for" the Messiah, didn't he need to be out and about telling people Christ was coming? Additionally, in the time since Jesus was introduced and His ministry became public, He was still at this point relatively obscure. This conundrum must have so perplexed John the Baptist that he sent a message to Jesus.

"Are you the one who is to come?" he questioned, "or should we expect someone else?"

Many people who profess faith in Christ encounter the same kinds of questions with which John the Baptist grappled. The glorious promises made in Scripture, combined with our propensity to focus on what we want to believe, lead many into the erroneous belief that the Christian life will be easy. We eagerly lap up the promises about God providing for us, enduing us with grace, and being an ever-present help. We tend to ignore, however, or at least not actively study, the clear biblical teaching like that found in Romans 8:17, that the glory of fellowship with Christ is inseparable from the accompanying suffering. When persecution or trials come, we question why God let them happen and wonder if faith is a mistake.

Note here what John the Baptist did not do. He didn't surround himself with his friends and pour out his doubts to them. He didn't seek their opinions in order to base his own beliefs, actions, or mindset on theirs. He didn't use others' information to fuel his own emotions.

What he did do was take his concerns directly to Christ. "Are you the one...?" God is not afraid of our questions; He's not afraid of you, dear one. He won't shirk from our doubts, but longs to reveal Himself to us in order to assuage them. He knows our fears and our temptations already and will never shame us for our questions. Talk to Him, dear one.

To whom do you turn with your questions or fears? What promise of God is not being fulfilled the way you thought it would, and how are you responding?

Lord, You know me better than I know myself, even to understanding my thoughts and unspoken fears. You know how tempting it is to turn to others -- they're here and visible. When I value others' input above Yours, remind me of your vast wisdom, and teach me to desire it above all earthly things and people.

TRUTH FOR TODAY: Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 (ESV)