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Summary: Encouragement for those times when, like John the Baptist, we have become frustrated and disappointed when God didn't work in the way we hoped or prayed about.

BELOVED PASTOR, D. L. MOODY, ONCE REMARKED THAT, “THE BEST WAY TO SHOW THAT A STICK IS CROOKED IS NOT TO ARGUE ABOUT IT OR TO SPEND TIME DENOUNCING IT, BUT TO LAY A STRAIGHT STICK ALONGSIDE IT.”

IT IS HUMAN NATURE TO QUESTION AND TO BE SKEPTICAL OF FACTS, FIGURES OR ANY TYPE OF INFORMATION THAT CHALLENGES WHAT WE BELIEVE, ALREADY KNOW OR HAVE EXPERIENCED. NOBODY WANTS TO BE CHALLENGED WITH HAVING TO CHANGE ALL THEY HAVE BELIEVED OR HAVE BEEN TAUGHT ABOUT SOMETHING.

SOME OF THE HARDEST MOMENTS IN LIFE CAN BE WHEN A LONG-HELD BELIEF, TRADITION, OR EXPECTATION BECOMES DISMANTLED OR DEFLATED DUE TO NEWLY REVEALED FACTS.

LIKE THE “STRAIGHT-STICK,” WE CAN FIND OURSELVES DOUBTING, ANXIOUS, CONCERNED, AND EVEN DISILLUSIONED AFTER FINDING THAT, WHEN COMPARED AGAINST THE STRAIGHT-STICK, OUR “STICK” OF LONG-HELD BELIEFS AND HOPES WAS THE ONE THAT WAS CROOKED. IT’S NEVER EASY TO REALIZE WE WERE WAY-OFF-BASE OR TO HAVE THINGS TURN OUT DIFFERENTLY.

NOBODY LIKES BEING LET-DOWN AFTER GETTING THEIR HOPES UP. IT IS NOT PLEASANT TO REALIZE YOU HAD IT ALL WRONG. IT REALLY STINKS WHEN THINGS DON’T TURN-OUT AS EXPECTED.

JOHN THE BAPTIST WAS NO DIFFERENT. HE HAD PUT HIS LIFE INTO PAVING THE WAY FOR JESUS AS THE COMING MESSIAH, BUT THINGS DIDN’T QUITE GO THE WAY HE EXPECTED OR HAD THOUGHT.

HE HAS BEEN SITTING IN PRISON FOR NEARLY A YEAR AND WAS GROWING EVERMORE CONFUSED. HE THOUGHT JESUS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE MESSIAH, BUT WAS THINKING HE WAS JUST A “MIRACLE WORKER” AND A “FAITH-HEALER.”

I CAN SEE WHY JOHN WAS DISSAPPOINTD AND SOMEWHAT DISILLUSIONED. PASTORWARREN WIERSBE SAID OF JOHN “IT IS NOT DIFFICULT TO SYMPATHIZE WITH JOHN AS HE SUFFERED IN PRISON.HE WAS A MAN OF THE DESERT, YET HE WAS CONFINED INDOORS. HE WAS AN ACTIVE MAN, WITH A DIVINE MANDATE TO PREACH; YET HE WAS SILENCED. HE HAD ANNOUNCED JUDGMENT AND YET THAT JUDGMENT WAS SLOW IN COMING. HE RECEIVED ONLY PARTIAL REPORTS OF JESUS’ MINISTRY AND COULD NOT SEE THE TOTAL PICTURE.”

THANKFULLY, JOHN HAD HIS DISCIPLES WHO REMAINED CLOSE TO HIM DURING HIS IMPRISONMENT. THEY WOULD COME TO HIM TO KEEP HIM UPDATED ON ALL THAT JESUS WAS DOING.

ALTHOUGH THE REPORTS OF WHAT JESUS WAS DOING WERE SIMPLY AMAZING AND REFLECTED THAT JESUS WAS THE MESSIAH, JOHN WAS STILL SKEPTICAL. HIS DOUBTS WERE STRONG ENOUGH TO STIR HIM INTO SENDING HIS DISCIPLES DIRECTLY TO JESUS WITH A VERY INTERESTING QUESTION.

EVEN THOUGH HE DELCARED WITH HIS OWN VOICE IN JOHN 1:29 “LOOK, THE LAMB OF GOD, WHO TAKES AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD” JOHN STILL WANTED TO KNOW, “ARE YOU THE ONE WHO IS TO COME, OR SHOULD WE EXPECT SOMEONE ELSE?” WHAT JOHN WAS IMPLYING WAS“ARE YOU REALLY THE EXPECTED MESSIAH OR SHOULD WE WAIT FOR A DIFFERENT KIND OF MESSIAH?”

JOHN HAD DOUBTS AND HE WONDERED ABOUT JESUS. ESPECIALLY “AFTER ALL HE DID FOR JESUS,” YOU WOULD THINK THAT JOHN WOULD NOT END UP DISAPPOINTED, DISILLUSIONED, CONFUSED AND NOT, IN OF ALL PLACES, PRISON?

THE PEACEFUL TEACHING AND HEALING MINISTRY OF JESUS DIDN’T QUITE MEASURE UP TO JOHN. LIKE MANY OTHERS, JOHN EXPECTED JESUS TO BE A MILITARY MESSIAH TO SAVE THEIR PEOPLE FROM ROMAN OPPRESSION. PLUS, JESUS WAS HIS COUSIN, SO HE MUST HAVE WONDERED "CAN’T YOU AT LEAST GET ME OUT OF JAIL?"

BUT, JESUS WASN’T A MILITARY MESSIAH, BUT THE SPIRITUAL MESSIAH WHO WOULD SAVE THEM FROM THEIR SINS. JESUS WAS PROVING THAT TIME AND TIME AGAIN.

YES, JESUS WAS, INDEED, “THE ONE WHO WAS TO COME.” WHAT JOHN DIDN’T REALIZE AT THE TIME WAS THAT THIS WAS JUST THE FIRST COMING OF JESUS CHRIST. THIS FIRST COMING OF JESUS IN FLESH WAS CHRIST IN GRACE AND MERCY. THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS IN SPIRIT AS THE PRINCE OF PEACE WOULD BE THE ERA OF JUDGMENT THAT JOHN HAD EXPECTED.

IN THIS ADVENT SEASON OF “EXPECTATIONS” AND OF ONCE AGAIN, “WAITING FOR JESUS TO COME AGAIN,” ARE WE FINDING OURSELVES, LIKE JOHN, CONFUSED OR EVEN DISAPPOINTED BY WHAT YOU WERE EXPECTING OF AND WAITING FOR IN JESUS?

YOU MAY BE STILL ASKING: WHY DO PRAYERS CONTINUE TO GO UNANSWERED? WHY DO LOVED ONES STUBBORNLY REFUSE THE GOSPEL DESPITE MY PLEAS? WHY IS MY LIFE’S ROUTINE NOTHING BUT DOCTOR VISITS, PROCEDURES AND SURGERIES…WHY CAN’T I BE WELL? WHY WON’T GOD HEAL ME AND TAKE THE PAIN AWAY?

WE HAVE ALL CRIED OUT IN MANY WAYS IN FRUSTRATION AT WHY GOD DOESN’T MOVE IN THE WAYS WE EXPECT OR HOPED. WE SOMETIMES EVEN GET ANGERED AT THE SILENCE FROM HEAVEN.

OUR SOCIETY DOES NOT TAKE WAITING AND SILENCE VERY WELL. WE LIVE IN A CULTURE WHERE PEOPLE EXPECT TO HAVE THEIR NEEDS AND WANTS IMMEDIATELY GRANTED WHICH IS WHY UNSOLVED PROBLEMS ARE SEEN AS UNNACCEPTABLE.

BUT, IT IS ALSO JUST AS UNACCEPTABLE, IF NOT ABSURD, TO THINK THAT WE CAN UNCONSCIOUSLY GIVE GOD DEADLINES TO WORK UNDER. GOD’S WAYS ARE ALWAYS “ETERNAL” BASED AND BEYOND OUR FULL COMPREHENSION.

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