Have you ever felt disappointed? Even more than that, have you ever felt disappointed in God? I have. Perhaps like you, there have been circumstances in my life that I expected to turn out one way, but they turned out a completely different way. The gap between our expectations and our reality can be heartbreaking. I’m not talking about those Level 1 disappointments, like when you expect to order your favorite meal at a restaurant, but you learn they don’t have it. (Although, if you’re hangry, that can be a Level 1.5 disappointment!) But I’m talking about those deep disappointments:
- You expected God to heal a loved one, but they died
- You expected good news from your doctor, but the report was troubling
- You expected your parents to stay together, but your dad left or they divorced
- You expected to get into a certain school or job, but you were rejected
- You expected to be married by now, but you’re still single with no good prospects
- You expected your marriage to last till death do you part, but you got divorced
- You expected a baby, but you lost a baby (or babies), or you’re unable to conceive
- You expected to leave this earth before your child did, but he or she left before you
- You expected to be in a certain place financially by now, but you are nowhere close
- You expected a deep desire or dream to come to pass, but it appears impossible now
- Deep disappointments
And for those of us who believe in God and His Word, these disappointments can sometimes feel more hurtful, because we know God could have done something to prevent our pain. He could have changed things. He could have saved our loved one or our marriage or our dream. He could have, but He didn’t. What do we do with these feelings? What do we do when it seems like God didn’t come through? If you’ve ever had any of these feelings or thoughts, as I have, we are in great company. There have been many great followers of Christ who have been confused by His methods at times, and I’m going to briefly highlight one of them.
John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin, and he is often referred to as the forerunner of Jesus. In more modern terms, he was Jesus’ hype man! He told people that Jesus was coming, and then when Jesus came, John basically said, “There He is, go follow Him!” So if anyone should have had rock-solid confidence in Jesus’ identity, it should have been John. Yet, in Matthew 11, we find a deeply disappointed John, who is contending with one of disappointment’s close relatives — doubt.
2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist;
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