Doubt is the result of unmet expectations in a relationship.
The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’”
None of us are protected from the error of doubt. It shows up in our relationships with other people when we suffer doubt regarding their loyalty or dependability. It may even be for good reason. There is no friend who is perfectly loyal or perfectly dependable. We will be let down.
But why is it that we suffer doubt in our relationship with God? Is it not that we fear He may let us down? That He may have us pass through unpleasent or even unbearable events? Dare we even think....
might God let us down?
John had to learn this lesson in the bowels of prison. The man who baptized our Lord, seemingly forgotten by all in his decrease while Jesus increased. I can see myself there. Cold. Dark. Alone. My mind racing back a forth trying to make sense of my imprisonment. I had expectations of Jesus setting up His kingdom, of me rightly taking my lowly place without the right to loose His sandle straps.
But John's expectations went unmet. Was it because God was unfaithful? No. And John knew this. But he could not reconcile his experiences with his expectations. So he reasoned that it must be that he got the Messiah's identity wrong.
Wrong again. Jesus responded to John's messengers:
In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Jesus displays the power in which He comes. Not only a power to heal the sick or make the deaf hear again, but He comes with the gospel. The power of God for salvation for everyone who believes. This is the proof that He is the Lamb of God, as John himself identified, who takes away the sins of the world. This is the One he was waiting for.
Some look down on John for his lack of faith, but I find great comfort in Christ's reassurance to John. He didn't rebuke him. He responded with the answer to the question John asked. Christ also didn't go break him out of prison, but he reset his perspective in the midst of that prison.
What went wrong with John? And what goes wrong with us? When God doesn't meet our expectations is it because He has failed? Or could it be that we don't see the whole picture? Do you think that the christian walk is designed to be one of ease and comfort? Because it's not.
Let's learn alongside John this most basic of lessons, that when all seems to fail around us, it is not because God is out of control, quite the opposite, it is His very plan that is unfolding before us: That through thorny ways and winding paths, through dark dungeons and dank dispair, through loss of friend or loss of life.....
He will bring us home.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
To download a sermon I gave on this topic: