November 6, 2020
When Faith Is Hard
By Skip Heitzig
One of the authenticating, confirming signs that Jesus was the Messiah was that He performed miracles. He healed people who were sick, He raised people from the dead, and He controlled the forces of nature. The Gospels record thirty-five of His miracles, but there were many more (see John 20:30-31).
But did you know that John the Baptist, who was the forerunner of Jesus and pointed others to Him, still struggled with his faith, despite everything he had seen? Let's look at three points about faith from Matthew 11:
1. Devout believers wrestle with their faith. John grew up convinced that his cousin Jesus was the Messiah predicted by the prophets. But then he got arrested for his preaching, was thrown in prison, and started to doubt. And his doubt was based on the common misunderstanding that when the Messiah would come, He would immediately set up His kingdom. So here he was wondering, "Why am I here? Where's the kingdom?"
It's not unusual for spiritual leaders to go through times of uncertainty. In fact, almost every single instance of the word doubt in the New Testament refers to believers, not unbelievers. So if you're having doubts today, I encourage you to first do with your doubts what John the Baptist did with his: he went to Jesus. He sent his disciples to ask Him, "Are you the Coming One, or do we look for another?" (v. 3).
2. Developing believers reason through their faith. Jesus answered John's question by appealing to personal discovery: "Go and tell John the things which you hear and see" (v. 4). Your personal testimony—what Jesus has done for you—is one of the most powerful tools you have in your spiritual arsenal.
But Jesus also appealed to biblical prophecy: "The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them" (v. 5; see Isaiah 35:5-6; 61:1). In other words, "Go tell John I'm the man with the message and the miracles to prove it. Tell him to think this through with a rigorous, reasonable faith."
3. Determined believers remain in their faith. Jesus finished by saying, "Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me" (v. 6). In other words, "John, don't be offended if God doesn't do everything you want Him to do. I know you're suffering in prison and there's a lot you don't understand, but I have given you enough evidence that can keep you tethered to believing in Me."
As believers, we should never give up what we know for what we don't know. Though miracles may be happening around you but not to you, though you may feel like you're imprisoned by some experience, event, or set of circumstances, that doesn't diminish who God is in any capacity. He is on the throne and in control. He runs the universe; you don't.
So let God be God and you be you. And if you're struggling with a matter of faith, I pray you would wrestle with it, reason through it, and come to a place where you can rest your head and your heart on the pillow of who Jesus proved Himself to be.