What comes to mind when you think of the name John the Baptist? He was a fire- breathing preacher who didn’t care who he offended. He baptized a lot of people, ate locusts and honey, and his name served as an epithet for a modern denomination.
However, did you know that John the Baptist spent a season in the pit?
He was imprisoned for some years for accusing Herod and Herodias of adultery. John had given his life to blazing a trail for the Messiah, and after all his sacrifice and obedience, he ends up in a pit. John showed exactly what he was wrestling with in the dark place when he sent one of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:2).
This was the voice of doubt. How could it be that he had seen the miracle at Jesus’ baptism, had been groomed his whole life to believe that he would prepare the way for Messiah, and then he would doubt whether or not He was the One?
When you are in a pit, everything you ever believed passes through the fire. The things you once held dearly, you begin to doubt. If we were honest like John, one of the biggest questions in the pit we would ask is, “Why did God put me here?”. If John is doubting God, then he is doubting everything else, including who the Messiah might be. If you are the Messiah, then why am I in this pit?
It’s important to note that God’s sovereign power does not guarantee our comfort and happiness. Divine victory does not always translate into someone walking against a beautiful proverbial sunset. Until we can embrace this reality, the pit will remain the pits.
Jesus’ response is significant: “Jesus answered and said to them, Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see 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. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me. Matthew 11:4-6 (NKJV)
Offended means hurt, snubbed, or slighted. It can also mean to fall away. In the book of Acts, the disciples of this new religion called Christianity finally began to embrace this idea - that His cross is their cross. The very fact that they bear his name means rejection and persecution.
In Acts 5, some of the apostles had just been beaten for the Gospel. When they left the council, it says they left: rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for His name Acts 5:41 (ESV).
So what do you do with the God who put you there - that place of difficulty, that circumstance that is constricting and oppressive? Do you feel hurt, snubbed, or slighted in your pit, or are you like Paul in prison who chose to be defined by one inescapable trait: Joy?
Let’s remember how Job reacted to the place God put him in: “In all this, Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” Job 1:22 (NKJV).