I was sitting in the bedroom of a friend’s house because I had to leave the room to get my bearings. I couldn’t understand how God was letting me suffer so much. I was teaching the Bible to women in my home, I was living by what He said the best I knew how, and I was homeschooling my children. I was slowly but surely learning to walk with God, but everyone needs to know the “old you” dies a slow and painful death. We have small victories and think we are good to go from then on. There is a reason we take up our cross daily. There are different places inside our souls that need to die all the time, so that the life of God can shine. Every single day (always) we both live a little and die a little.
“I was slowly but surely learning to walk with God, but everyone needs to know the “old you” dies a slow and painful death.”
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.
2 Corinthians 4:10-11
“Why was I struggling so hard as I was walking in truth, while someone who didn’t care about truth was living their best life?”
I left the room because I was enduring pictures from someone’s exotic vacation who could care less about God. I was both jealous and confused. Why was I struggling so hard as I was walking in truth, while someone who didn’t care about truth was living their best life? I sat in that bedroom and didn’t even talk to God about it because I knew that stuff was not important, but I couldn’t help how sad I felt.
I got up the next morning to read and God answered me about something I didn’t even talk to Him about. How kind that He often ignores what we say and addresses what’s actually happening inside our souls.
Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.
He wasn’t disappointed in me and didn’t even scold me. He told me the truth and comforted me through the rest of the Psalm. Things didn’t get easier, but what was written became greater than my feelings of being forgotten. I knew I had heard from the God of Heaven. That’s a bigger deal than all the exotic places I could ever visit. What if I had run from God instead of to Him? I would have started on a downward spiral that could have changed the entire trajectory of my life. Big doors turn on little hinges.
“What if I had run from God instead of to Him? I would have started on a downward spiral that could have changed the entire trajectory of my life.”
Has anyone else ever felt the way I did? We are in good company. John the Baptist had his moment and it is recorded for us.
Herod put John in prison because his wicked wife hated him and wanted him dead. John had spoken out against Herod’s marriage to her. She was Herod’s brother’s wife and John boldly told them they were wrong and it was sinful. Herod feared John because he knew he was a prophet of God. He didn’t kill him, but he had to appease his nagging wife, so into prison he went. If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
John had faithfully fulfilled his calling of being, ““A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” (Isaiah 40:3)
Can any of us imagine our birth being written about in scripture over 700 years before we were born? Think of the boldness we would feel in our calling knowing that the angel Gabriel had personally announced we were coming to our father and mother in their old age. The angel himself said that John would be “great in the sight of the Lord,” and that he would prepare the way for the long awaited Messiah. John was the one who baptized Jesus and saw the Spirit descend on Him and heard God’s voice from heaven.
“And yet, even though he did everything God wanted him to, John ended up forgotten (or so he thought) in prison.”
And yet, even though he did everything God wanted him to, John ended up forgotten (or so he thought) in prison. John’s disciples visited him and told him that Jesus was raising people from the dead, healing the sick, and doing many miracles. People were astonished. John had plainly said, “He must increase; I must decrease,” (John 3:30) but this was ridiculous.
“John didn’t rejoice in what was happening; he was confused and discouraged.”
John didn’t rejoice in what was happening; he was confused and discouraged. Scripture tells us what he did (I love knowing every single person in the Bible is human just like the rest of us).
John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
“John had to be thinking that if Jesus was truly the Messiah he had so boldly proclaimed Him to be, he wouldn’t be rotting away in a jail cell.”
John had to be thinking that if Jesus was truly the Messiah he had so boldly proclaimed Him to be, he wouldn’t be rotting away in a jail cell. God had a plan for John and this was it. He was to prepare the way for Jesus, get thrown into prison for doing the right thing, and then get his head chopped off by a wicked ruler. How? Herod threw a party, his stepdaughter performed a lewd dance in front of him and many other guests. He was so pleased that he told her he would give her whatever she wanted up to half the kingdom. Herodias, her mother (the one who wanted John dead) told the girl to ask for John’s head. This gives new meaning to the scripture, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8)
We often quote that scripture with great hopefulness and expectation. No human would have ended a life like John the Baptist’s like that. He was a hero. He was a nonconformist. He stuck it to the man. He was like William Wallace in Braveheart. But in the end, his head was delivered to his enemy on a platter.
How do we live and function in a world like that? How do we have joy when we follow God and suffer horrible things while the godless change spouses like a jacket, have lots of money and travel the world?
“I will tell you how we are to function; by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
I will tell you how we are to function; by every word that comes from the mouth of God. “It is written” is the only way we will ever make it to the end in victory. Circumstances will eat our lunch and make us question everything about Jesus. We will turn on Him. None of us are guaranteed health and wealth, but we are guaranteed the Presence of God and eternal life. We don’t live for this kingdom. We are living for a kingdom that is unseen.
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 paraphrased Isaiah 61:1 to those messengers. In other words, Jesus pointed straight to “it is written” in scripture. Proof of who Jesus was did not change because John was completely defeated and in jail. Proof of Jesus was written all through the Bible and John was to stand on that truth over every experience he was having at the moment. We are so easily offended by the way God works. When we are faithful and we suffer, we want to turn and question the character of God. If we can’t understand “why,” our praises for God quickly turn to judgement of Him.
“If we can’t understand “why,” our praises for God quickly turn to judgement of Him.”
When we worship God for what we can get out of Him or what He might do for us, it is not worship, it is Satanic.
Let me explain.
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
- I will give you
- If you worship me
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.
“To be able to worship God when we suffer unjustly, lose a child, get mangled or paralyzed in a car wreck, etc…, has to be based on who He is, not what He allows.”
To be worthy of worship entails perfect goodness. It’s not something we give in exchange for blessing. Any being that is morally defective in any way is not worthy of worship. To be able to worship God when we suffer unjustly, lose a child, get mangled or paralyzed in a car wreck, etc…, has to be based on who He is, not what He allows. None of us are going to make it through this world unscathed. If we don’t get to know Him and trust Him, we won’t make it when the suffering comes.
Everything around us screams, “God is not good; He is not in control; He does not care!” His Word will cut through all of that and say, “I am who I say I am! Blessed are you if you are not disappointed by the way I run my world.”
Believe it or not, “blessed” in that case means happy. Happiness based on anything other than truth will not make it through a twenty-four hour period, much less a lifetime.