We all have those days where we feel like a failure… When the word “useless" seems to be ringing in our ears so loudly that we cannot silence it. We know we should rise above the doubts but they keep coming like a tsunami and we’re not sure we can keep our head above.
Sometimes, if we’re honest, we wonder if we’re even still friends with God. If He really still wants to put up with us or even notice our existence. Or if we’re somehow below the reach of His eyes.
While we know with our head that our God loves us, our hearts don’t always seem to embrace the fact. A love like His can seem so magical that we don’t even know it in real experience. Or maybe we thought once that we did and now we’re not so sure.
I've been praying about such days of late and how we can let them be trumped by love. Yesterday I opened my Bible to Matthew 11 with a prayer to see the love of my Jesus once again and found myself stunned by what I read.
An hour later these were the words penned in my journal. I share them because something tells me this story wasn’t just for me…
"He sits in a dungeon. Alone. Darkness stealing over every inch of his body. Flies buzz around him, his chains cut deep, and the floor he sits on is hard. But that is the least of his worries tonight. In fact, it has been for awhile. He keeps thinking of the face of the One who is his cousin, but more than that, his one hope. He had given his life to prepare the way for the One. It hadn’t been easy. The standing alone. Being misunderstood. Carrying burdens for the souls of men. After all, he hadn’t been asked to be a disciple. He hadn’t been permitted to spend hours at Jesus’ side. He had less time with Him than many of the people he preached to.
Sitting in his cell, the doubts nagged his mind. They had for weeks, but he had determined to resist them. Tonight they called louder than ever. Maybe He isn’t the One. What is He doing to set your people free? What is He doing to set you free? Nothing. Precisely. He hasn’t even visited you. You who did so much for Him. He’s probably forgotten you. How can a man like that be the One? And if He isn’t, all your work was in vain. Pointless. Maybe you didn’t hear the call right in the beginning. Maybe you were supposed to be a normal man with a family. Instead you ended up here. In prison.
He didn’t want to listen to these thoughts, but they were driving him crazy and he had to know. Were they true? Was Jesus really the One after all?
To find out would take gut-wrenching honesty. After all, he was the one who had led thousands to the Messiah. And now he’s sitting here wondering himself.
He takes the plunge and sends two of his followers to Jesus with a simple question. Are you the One who was to come, or should we look for someone else?
Jesus doesn’t attack or flip out at such a question. He keeps healing and teaching and eventually sends the men back to tell John what they have seen. But not before sending a message directly for his hurting cousin… Blessed is he who isn’t offended because of me.
John hears the words and he smiles. Jesus had sensed the heart of his question. He knew. And He still cared. He’d accepted the hard question and responded with a hard but loving answer.
But John did not know all. He didn’t see the love that burned in the heart of his cousin for him. He didn’t hear the words spoken by the Son of God about the one who was battling doubts and feelings of failure.
He didn’t know, but we do. Maybe because Jesus knew we needed to know and hear more than John did.
Jesus didn’t condemn His cousin to the multitude. He did the opposite. His words echo down the ages into my little heart…
What did you come out to the wilderness to see? A weak man? What did you come for? To see a man rich and comfortable? No. Such men live in palaces. So why did you really come? To see a prophet? Yes, but this one was more than a prophet. This was the one who was sent to prepare the ground before me. I’m telling you, of all the men born of women, there is none greater than this one.
This one who feels like a failure. This one who is seemingly so distant from Jesus that he wonders if they’re really friends. This one who seems ignored by the God who is his own flesh and blood.
This one is loved and honored even when he doesn’t see it. Even after asking gut-wrenching questions. In fact, right in the middle of it. Even when he feels like a failure to the crown. Even when he’s not sure if he believes in a Jesus like this. Even when he wonders if he and God are really friends anymore.
This one is loved and honored right then.
And so am I. So are you.