Jared C. Wilson is quickly becoming one of my favorite Christian authors. Writing about suffering and the goodness of God, in his book The Story of Everything, Wilson says this:
I have a problem with all the “chase your dreams!” cheerleading from Christian leaders. It’s not because I begrudge people who want to achieve their dreams, but because I think we don’t readily see how easy it is to conflate our dream-chasing with God’s will in Christ.
You know, it’s possible that God’s plan for us is littleness. His plan for us maybe personal failure. It’s possible that when another door closes, it’s not because he plans to open the window but because he plans to have the building fall down on you. The question we must ask ourselves is this: Will Christ be enough? (Wilson, The Story of Everything, 122.)
It’s not that this quote is necessarily the sum of all that Christianity is. No one paragraph of any book is able to capture all that Christianity is. But this paragraph does, in my opinion, reflect a theme of Christianity that is often underrepresented in our churches, even the best churches. When life is hard, tomorrow might not be better than today, at least in the way that we understand things.
Two things make Wilson’s quote especially pertinent to the life of John the Baptist. First, the statement about “littleness.” Of the several famous quotes by John the Baptist, one that he said of Jesus is this: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Second, Wilson’s comment is relevant to John because of the statement about closing doors and not opening a window. Wilson is spoofing what is common in Christian lingo, that a closed door must mean another opportunity (a better opportunity!) will always arise. But it’s possible that won’t be the case . . . it was for John. When God sent John to prison, he didn’t get out. He was executed there (Matthew 14:1–12).
The question John must have been asking was whether Jesus would be enough for him when he actually did “decrease” and it seemed he was about to die? And the question for you and me is similar. Will Jesus be enough for us when we get “littleness” and a “window doesn’t open”?
Yes, yes he will.
When you stand up for what’s right and end up in jail (as was the case with John); when you have cancer; when you lose your job; when your house is robbed; when your parents get a divorce . . . Jesus is still Jesus. And he’s enough for you. At his weakest moment, God told the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Today, if you are weak, know that Jesus is strong and he loves you dearly, even if you don’t understand your own pain and God’s plan for it.
* This has been excerpted and adapted from a sermon I recently preached at Community Evangelical Free Church. You can listen below.
[Picture by Gabriele Diwald / Unsplash]