When Trust in God Is Not Easy
3rd Sunday of Advent
December 11, 2022
People travelled great distances to see John the Baptist. John wore a camel’s hair coat, ate locusts and wild honey and ministered at the Jordan River, all of which evoked images of the prophet Elijah returning. What a sight this must have been! John was an apocalyptic preacher. His was a message of repentance and consequences. He tended to emphasize the need of repentance to avoid the perfect justice of God.
Because of this fiery kind of preaching, John soon found himself arrested and sitting in prison out in the desert where he began to wonder if Jesus was, in fact, the one that people were expecting. After all, the Messiah was to “set the prisoners free” (Isaiah 42:7), and yet Jesus not only did not set John free, there is no record of him even visiting him! Then, too, Jesus’ preaching tended to emphasize love of God and neighbor rather than what John had done. John, then, needed reassurance that his faith in Jesus was not misplaced.
Jesus did not meet all of John’s expectations. Even John the Baptist was challenged by the mystery of God’s will! What does John do? He asks questions of Jesus: “Are you really the one we are expecting or are we to wait for another?” And how does Jesus answer this? He says to look at the works he is performing – the blind seeing, the lame walking. In other words, the Lord’s will and presence can be discerned by the fruits of his presence in our lives.
We too at times are challenged by God’s will in our lives. In a word, Jesus seems at times not to meet our expectations. How often the Lord challenges his disciples! Our personal comfort zone is never safe when we have a real relationship with the living God. At times we may wonder where God has been in a personal or world disaster; we may pray hard for one particular outcome and the opposite will happen; we struggle with personal issues or sins and God does not seem to assist right away; we long for God to act in a decisive way in the world and he continues to offer mercy instead!
The Lord has a perfect plan for the world and for each one of us. The great gift of a real relationship with God is learning to trust when it is difficult. Trust is easy when another person meets all our expectations; but, at times, God will move out in front of us in such a way that we cannot see where he is going or why he is taking us there. This is when the Lord is building our faith and trust and we are comforted that even John the Baptist had to learn this lesson! In this way, our Lord seeks to build a mature and eternal relationship of unwavering trust in each person in the world that he walks with as a friend.