In a rush to work this morning, I spill coffee all over myself. Why, God, why? Okay, no big deal. Then, I get some difficult feedback on a project I’ve been working hard on at work. Why, God, why? That one burns a little more. After work, I find out I have a flat tire and need to call my wife to pick me up. Why, God, why?
The truth is, all of those examples are small compared to what some people are experiencing. But we’ve all been there, haven’t we? Nothing seems to be going right, and we ask God that simple question: Why? Why is this happening to me? After everything I’ve done for You? I’m such a good person compared to that one person at work …
At times, our expectations of what God should do are different from what He actually does. If God always met your expectations, He wouldn’t be God, He’d be your personal assistant. No one knew this better than John the Baptist. John was sitting in prison, all because Herod was mad that John was criticizing his relationship choices (you should read your Bible, it’s a crazy story). And John likely was waiting. Waiting on Jesus. After all, why wouldn’t Jesus come and rescue him?
In Matthew 11:3 NLT, John asks this of Jesus: “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”
In other words, “Are you really who you say you are? Are you actually the Messiah? Because it seems like if you were, I wouldn’t be sitting here in this dirty prison cell.” Or maybe He even asked something like this: “Why, God, why?”
When I read this, I would expect that Jesus would show up triumphantly, break down the prison walls, and rescue John. (That sounds like a great worship song, doesn’t it?)
Instead, Jesus says this:
“Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” Matthew 11:4-5 NLT
He doesn’t answer John’s question directly with a “yes” or “no” answer, but I think as soon as John heard this, he knew that Jesus was the Messiah. After all, how else could the blind see, the deaf hear, and the dead be raised to life?
Then Jesus adds something that reframes everything and proceeds to turn it all upside down.
And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.” Matthew 11:6 NLT
I’d have thought Jesus might say, “God blesses those who don’t fall away because of the temptations of the devil. God blesses those who don’t fall away even when culture isn’t aligned with my principles. God blesses those who don’t fall into sin.”
But He doesn’t say any of that. He says, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.” Another translation of that same verse says, “God blesses those who are not offended by me.”
Essentially, Jesus was saying that you’re blessed if you’re not offended by God’s activity—or at times the seeming lack thereof.
Honestly, that’s hard for me to get my mind around. I often expect that God will answer all of my prayers, and if He doesn’t, I assume it’s because I didn’t have enough faith.
Jesus is saying that some people will be disappointed by His lack of activity.
The marriage still fell apart. The cancer wasn’t cured. The prodigal son never returned. John the Baptist ended up being beheaded in prison.
Our circumstances are not necessarily a reflection of His goodness, but His presence is. You’re blessed when you can trust God in the valleys even after you’ve seen Him move mountains. Sometimes the blessing is there even without the breakthrough.
If you’re going through a difficult season right now, I pray you’ll trust He’s good, even when you’re disappointed by Him.