Even The Strongest Stumble
Chan Gin Kai
John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’” (Luke 7:18-20)
We’ve all been there before.
We obey God’s words and serve his people. We sacrifice so much and we give our best. Yet things go awry. Sometimes, it goes so terribly wrong that it hurts us badly. We hold on desperately to God’s promises, but wonder why there is no respite. We pray even as we fear that God doesn’t hear us. We lose our faith, and we stumble.
It happened to John the Baptist. Yes, John the cousin of Jesus, sent to prepare the way for the Messiah. The Radical John who ate locusts and wild honey. The Selfless John who asked his disciples to follow Jesus. The Fearless John who confronted King Herod for his adultery. The Powerful John who is respected as a prophet by Christians, Catholics, Muslims and Bahá'ís. Even John the Baptist stumbled.
The prophet who thrived in the wild was thrown into a damp and dark dungeon, locked up for speaking the truth. His fate was uncertain, and his death imminent. Why hasn’t the Messiah overthrown the Romans yet? Couldn’t Jesus at least free him from prison? Like relentless prison rats, the potent mix of confusion and discouragement gnawed away at John's conviction, gradually tearing his rock hard faith to shreds.
If it could happen to John the Baptist, it could happen to us.
Life is not easy. We can fail our exams, fail in relationships, lose our jobs, and get backstabbed by friends. We can contract diseases, meet accidents and see loved ones die. Christians are not immune to tragedies.
Life is unfair. The good aren’t always victorious and the bad don’t always lose. We can do our best and still be blamed, give our heart only to have it thrown back at us broken. We can get maligned and slandered, and have others’ faults pinned on us. Christians are not immune to injustice.
Despite the trials of life, we try to stay firm in our conviction and strong in our faith. But the pain and disappointments slowly chew away the vestiges of trust that we still have in God. Even the strongest among us stumble.
At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” (Luke 7:21-23)
Jesus addressed John’s doubt by telling John’s disciples to report what they have seen and heard. Jesus fulfilled the prophecies – the blind receive sight (Isaiah 35:5), the lame walk (Isaiah 35:6), the deaf hear (Isaiah 35:5) the dead are raised (Isaiah 26:19) and good news is proclaimed to the poor (Isaiah 61:1). It was as much a proof of Jesus' divinity as a reminder to John of what he already knew. That’s what we all need too, reminders.
As I struggle with discouragement, I shall remember God’s goodness. Remember all the times in the past He has delivered me from trouble. Remember all the undeserved blessings He has showered upon me. Remember Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. He loves me as much as before, and is as good to me as He ever was. He has never left me, and is beside me in my suffering. I am not alone. Remember God.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:30-31)
Our strength will be renewed when we hope in God. We will rise from the pits and soar again.
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".