John the Baptist was a wise and Spirit-filled man, a prophet sent to prepare Jewish hearts to receive their Messiah.
No doubt he was sure of his calling and passionately energetic in fulfilling his work.
When Jesus came to John to be baptized, John looked at Him and said, “There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
Time passed and John was arrested and put in prison. Later he sent word through his disciples to Jesus, asking “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”
No doubt, John was confused by his circumstances, and discouraged. After all, wasn’t he sent to prepare the way for the Messiah? Wasn’t Messiah going to conquer the Romans and restore Israel to her former glory and power? Why then, did John languish in prison?
Jesus sent a reply that I’m sure surprised John. “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 because of me.” (Matthew 11:4-6)
Perhaps John envisioned Jesus only as a conquering Messiah. Even though Jesus referred to his kingdom as “not of this world,” I’m sure most hearers would not have comprehended those words.
And so it is today. We believers, in our humanity, envision the ways that God will come through for us. We imagine that every good thing must also look good to our human eyes. If I were John the Baptist, I would have felt the same perplexity and discouragement. How can being shut away in prison, facing death be a good thing?
Why does God’s kingdom remain invisible?
If God has called me, then why does my work remain unrecognized and insignificant?
Why doesn’t God vindicate His Name?
Even today, with two thousand years’ perspective, the tragic martyrdom of John the Baptist, and others’ from that time until now, remains a perplexing agony. It’s like entering a dark tunnel where you can only see a dim light far away.
Stick to your calling, and answer your doubts with the encouragement that comes from dwelling close to the Savior.
You may never see—on this side of eternity—what God is accomplishing through you.
No matter how frustrated you feel about circumstances, or other people, or the powers of darkness that seem to thwart God’s will, remember:
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness in His wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9 NIV Bible)
“That you may declare the praises of Him…”