Lent Day 16

Luke 7:18-35, Disciple of John the Baptist

Boy, did I get myself into trouble over John the Baptist when I was in seminary!
I was working as a pastoral intern at a downtown church and it was my turn to preach. The lectionary passage may have been this or another one having to do with the John the Baptist. At the worship planning meeting, I said I was going to preach on John’s issues with faith. That did NOT go over well with my supervising pastor so I quickly changed my sermon topic. But, let’s be real, like the rest of us humans, John had his doubts about Jesus from time to time. That is very surprising to some folks because, for most of his life, John had a front row seat in Jesus’ life.

John was aware of Jesus as the messiah from the time of his birth. He was Jesus’ cousin and no doubt heard stories from his parents about not only his own miraculous birth, but Mary’s divine child as well as. Then John officiated at Jesus’s baptism. John was there when the heavens opened and a voice from heaven declared, “this is my son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” I’m thinking you’d remember that day. We even met two of John’s disciples last week in our devotions that John encouraged to become Jesus’ disciples instead. Yet here John asks, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” (Luke 7:19). I don’t blame the guy – he is sitting in prison and he is about to be beheaded.

It is not usually for the circumstances in our lives to affect our faith, to make us question our beliefs –even those beliefs that we held as an undeniable truth just a month or two ago. Faith is hard, and faith is sometimes harder in the hard times. It is easy to believe when God has sent you people to baptize, disciples galore, and affirming voices from heaven. It is much tougher when you are sitting in prison (or a hospital, funeral home or unemployment office) with only a few friends to your name. Then we may ask like John did, “Is this all true, Lord? Did I get it wrong? If not, why do I feel so alone?” And we would not be the first. This is something that ALL the disciples have had to deal with at some time in their faith journeys.

Paul encourages us, “not to lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

Momentary afflictions are not fun and they never feel “momentary”. Having troubles with your faith? It’s OK. You are not alone and there is help.

If this resonates with you, please share with your friends.