Tuesday, January 08, 2013

When God Is Inattentive

Your difficulties are not proof that God doesn't like you.

Matthew 11:2-6, 11 John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus,  "Are You the Messiah we've been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?"

Jesus told them, "Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen--  the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.  And tell him, 'God blesses those who do not turn away because of Me. '"

11 “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist

John the Baptist has questions, things are not going very well for him as he sits in prison, the same man that gave such a definite, bold proclamation about Jesus identity is now having doubts. John told us about Jesus and he told us about the awesome things that Jesus was going to do but a lot of those things have not happened yet and now John is struggling. (Matthew 3:10-12, John 1:19-35)

John's struggles were just like any of us would have. He probably couldn't understand why his own cousin who is so powerful didn't bust him out of jail. He probably wondered my the Messiah wasn't exerting political power or why the predictions of judgement from Matthew 3 were not coming true.

John the Baptist was a great man that the people loved, Jesus loved him and said that he was a great man but he was in jail because Herod and his wife Herodias, didn't like him. Herodias was the daughter-in-law of Herod the Great, twice: once by marriage to his son, Herod II, and again by marriage to another son, Herod Antipas. John was in jail because he stood up for the truth and spoke out against this marriage.

Jesus response wasn't full of hope for John, he told the messengers to go and tell John what they have seen and what they have heard, he didn't say hang in there and I will get you out soon. John wasn't feeling the love while he sat there in prison while his cousin Jesus was helping strangers and seemingly was ignoring him. Jesus last words to the messengers that were returning to John may sound really peculiar, he gives them this message to tell John:
"And tell him, 'God blesses those who do not turn away because of Me. '"
That doesn't sound like words of encouragement to bless a man that has his doubts. Jesus seems to be telling John that he knows about John's circumstances but he is choosing not to change them. Jesus seems to be saying that God will allow things to come into our lives that will be difficult and they could cause us to stumble but we should keep the faith.

Sometimes it looks like God isn't working in our lives, our circumstances begin to impact our confidence in God, we doubt that he loves us or if he cares about us. Our pain begins to distort reality and we think that God isn't paying attention.

Life will be hard.

John 16:33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
It is important to remember that your circumstances do not coincide with how God feels about you, the proof of that is at the cross, our knowledge of God's infinite love needs to be recalled when the doubts come our way. We went out of his way to prove his love to you and to provide a way for you to spent eternity with him.

We need to be encouraged to remember when God did show himself to be real, we need to remember what we have "heard and seen" about Jesus in the past. We need help to see past our prison walls and remember the goodness of God, the fellowship of the family of God is supposed to help you out, don't neglect this powerful resource.

This broken sinful world will have it's share of difficulties but we know the one that has overcome the world so that we can have peace to keep on going without turning away from the faith.

Inspired by an Andy Stanley Podcast: When God, Part 1 - When God Is Inattentive