“Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”
Here we are ten days away from Christmas and counting down. We are anticipating, waiting, and getting a bit anxious about all the things we have left to do before that day.
We are in a totally different place than John the Baptist who spoke these words. He sat in a dark dungeon prison cell, and in that darkness he began to question whether Jesus was the Messiah he had proclaimed him to be. Knowing that his life was about to end, could he have been wrong about Jesus? Had his ministry been a failure?
So he sends some of his followers to ask Jesus if he really is the Messiah.
Perhaps John wanted to see Jesus do more in terms of declaring that he was the Messiah by gathering an army of believers to take over leadership of the Temple and begin a rebellion against Rome.
We are not sure what he expected but surely he hoped that Jesus would somehow come to his rescue to free him from his dungeon. What John did not understand was that Jesus, the Messiah was doing miracles that would change the whole world. He was changing hearts. He was healing, raising the dead and setting people free in their hearts to believe and trust in God for all situations of life.
It is no different for you and me.
In the darkness of whatever imprisons us it is sometimes hard for us to see how Christ is changing the world when our world remains darkened by sickness, sorrow, bankruptcy, or whatever devastation may be in our lives.
We, too, can feel stuck between God’s promises made and God’s promises kept.
When we know ourselves to live in between Christ’s first coming at Bethlehem and his second coming in glory, we too may begin to question God when we are disappointed by ourselves, the world, and even God.
We may find ourselves whispering a prayer of desperation “ O Come, Lord Jesus, come.”
And at the same time wondering if God will come to get us out of our dungeon of cancer, divorce or other brokenness that is wearing down our faith to the nub.
At those moments, whatever our misgivings, whatever our disappointments, God is not disappointed in us and comes to us anyway, eager to join us in our weakness, to hold onto us in our insecurity, and to comfort us in our fear. For God in Jesus came not for the strong and the proud but the weak and vulnerable. God in Jesus came, and is coming for us.Jesus calls us to look beyond ourselves at the many ways he is working in the world through others, and in seeing the miracles of his grace through other Christians we can know that even if we are in this place of despair God is at work in the world and the Kingdom is surely coming. Christ is working miracles in ways the world may not see.
The miracle He may work in us may be with a faith that endures the darkness until the light of God’s glory appears in a new day of grace.
- Have you ever experienced the dark night of the soul where you have questioned if God is really there with you, or if there is a God?
- How can you be reassured in your places of darkness that Christ is walking with you?
- How can you help someone else to reassure them that Christ is walking with them?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.