Yet, just as Jesus’ public ministry was ramping up, John was sitting in prison. This man who spent his time in the wide-open spaces of the desert, wearing an outfit of camel hair and a leather belt was confined to the darkness of the dungeon, relying on his disciples to bring him news of the outside world. Things were not lining up like he had planned.
John’s disciples came to Jesus with a message. “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask,” they said. “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Luke 7:20) If Jesus was proclaiming liberty to the captives, why had his biggest cheerleader been left to suffer in Herod’s prison for such a long time?
Jesus didn’t give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Instead, he gave evidence. “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.” His words echoed Isaiah, a fulfillment of prophecies John would have recognized and understood. And then he added, “God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.” (Luke 7:22-23, NLT)
I find it so easy to follow Christ when my life follows my plan. I dive into the hard work when there’s clear direction and purpose, especially when it allows my life to stay on its own happy course. But how easy it is to abandon the plan when life takes a turn I wasn’t expecting. When the disappointment comes and I find myself in the bottom of a dark, dank dungeon of questions and disappointment. Are you, like me, ever tempted to echo the words of John the Baptist, “Are you the One who is to come or should we expect someone else?”
There were a lot of things about brokenness I didn’t understand that day I stood in the yard between the two Hanks. My sorrow was fresh and deep. I felt like I was alone, dangling off the ledge of a cliff. I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to survive.
In the moment of my raw soul honesty, I struggled to make peace with God’s answer to the prayer for a lost dog and apparent decision not to answer mine for my daughter. I felt forgotten. I wonder if John the Baptist felt the same way?
“There are very few places where the soul is truly safe,
where the knowing,
the longings of the soul are
and listened to
rather than evaluated,
or beaten out of us,”
says Ruth Haley Barton.
Finding Hope When God is Silent
What do we do with our stack of unanswered questions? Perhaps, like John the Baptist, we bring them to Jesus. We sit and confess our fears to Him, our longing for more, our lack of understanding. And then we wait. We give Him space to move into our lives, and we see that not only is He working in the souls of others around us, He is working within us. He doesn’t scold us, doesn’t reprimand us for our clumsy sorrows. He simply invites us to draw closer. To lean in.
“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,” He whispers to us.
The Bible doesn’t record how John received the message. Though his life ended brutally in the dungeon, his voice still calls out to us in our desert. And you and I? Our stories aren’t over. We must cling to finding hope when God is silent. It is possible, even when you feel disillusioned and alone. You may find it hard to see it clearly, but the truth is, He is always at work. Even when it takes a couple of look-alike dogs named Hank.
This article originally appeared at SarahDamaska.com.