Matthew 11:2-3 “Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are you the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?’ ”
Discouragement is a powerful tool of the devil, and he uses it liberally with everyone! Even the most godly people can find themselves sinking into the deep abyss of disappointment once in a while. This quagmire of discouragement can be caused by a number of factors, and it is important to recognize the danger and to know how to effectively combat it.
Jesus had sent his closest disciples out on a mission for his kingdom. He prepared them with instructions and the authority needed for success. After the send-off Jesus continued to preach and teach in the surrounding cities. While ministering there, a group of men brought an urgent message from John the Baptist. John, suffering in a Roman prison, needed to know, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?”
Only a few months prior John the Baptist had stood at the river’s edge heralding the message of the impending kingdom of God. Crowds swarmed around his wilderness pulpit and responded to his powerful message of repentance. But now, because of a public criticism of Herod’s unlawful marriage to Herodias, another man’s wife, he was languishing in a dank, dark prison. No wonder discouragement had set in!
Sitting in this dungeon with plenty of time to think, John likely wondered if he had misunderstood his mission and message. Possibly he wondered if he had made a mistake in openly condemning Herod. A deep feeling of despair played games with his mind that threatened to crush his resolve and courage. So he did what he knew would set his frame of mind right and sent his questions to Jesus.
He was not disappointed. Jesus responded to John’s messengers by sending back words of comfort and encouragement. Quoting a passage from the prophet Isaiah, He said, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: ‘the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”
The kingdom Jesus preached was not an earthly kingdom as many seemed to think, but a spiritual kingdom, and it was coming in power from above.
If John the Baptist, God’s messenger foretold in the Old Testament, could experience discouragement when things went awry, how much more can we. This painful emotion often stems from (1) a lack of confidence in ourselves, (2) a lack of trust in God, or (3) a lack of control over the future. Satan loves to plant thoughts of hopelessness to draw us away from the Lord and to distract us from the truth.
In order to overcome this debilitating feeling we must do what John the Baptist did: cast all our cares on the Lord. Bring Him our questions and concerns, our doubts and fears. He can straighten out our misunderstanding of His plan, infuse us with fresh courage, and use the very things that have discouraged us for our good. And even if He doesn’t choose to reveal the purpose of every detail, we can trust that he has our best interest at heart and will accomplish His will in our life and in His kingdom.
So don’t be surprised when feelings of discouragement wash over you from time to time. Satan is alive and well and is determined to crush your spirit. Instead, put your confidence in the King. “Hold fast the confession of your hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).
Sandra Sheridan is a midwest wife and mother of five. She shares her letters to her children with our readers. Visit her at www.VersesFromMama.com.