It might have felt as if God had abandoned him to prison and death, as punishment for his own sins, as much as it could be a direct result of doing God’s will and being a faithful prophet. We can imagine how it hard it might have been for him to remain clear headed, and to avoid becoming mired in a maze of doubts about all the prophecies and signs that used to bring him so much joy and certainty, as he struggled between the moments of consolation and desolation and his soul could not find peace. The thought of being wrong about Jesus would be unbearable because If he had gotten that wrong, his whole life and his ministry would have been in vain. But even with his doubts, John had a deep, unshakable trust in Jesus. So he sent disciples to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
Jesus would have known about John’s sorrows and grief and the desolation that was threatening to engulf his cousin. Sitting with John’s disciples and among his own, Jesus spoke clearly and with great love as He confirmed for John, through them, that John had been right all along. “Tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” John would recognize Isaiah’s prophecy and the Word would bring the peace John needed. Nothing about John’s spiritual and intellectual turmoil stopped Jesus from affirming Johns standing before God and men. “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist;”
Like John the Baptist, the greatest of saints can and have experienced the deepest of spiritual darkness and doubt. Are we so surprised when it happens to us? It can happen because of the kinds of prisons in sin that we build for ourselves. It can happen because of the challenges that we face as we faithfully live according to God’s will and suffer the sometimes unbearable consequences. It can happen to the best of us, and the worst of us.
But John and the Saints who came after him, all shared an important spiritual strength that allowed them to overcome. They had an unshakable trust in Jesus that moved them to reach out, just like Peter walking on the water. We too must trust in God’s love and care for us, and continue to reach out when our joy and certainty of faith is being attacked. God knows there will be struggles in our lives, of our own making and those inflicted upon us by others, but will remain faithful to us and provide what we need to rise and overcome. God wants our joy to be abiding and our peace to surpass all understanding.
Peace doesn't just happen; it's made.
CampusPadre is a college ministry Priest Chaplain with 30 years experience in youth and young adult ministry, who strives to let the Holy Spirit lead and challenges students to seek holiness above all.