Something that amazes me every time is when I read in Scripture when one of God’s people suffered a hardship or great loss and that person praised God in the midst of it. In that moment, they were be able to look past their immediate circumstances and gaze upon a loving and caring Father who was with them in the midst of their trouble.
After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized for John had not yet been put in prison. Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. – John 3:22-27, ESV
John’s ministry was winding down. Soon, he would be imprisoned for speaking out against a ruler’s grave sins. That imprisonment would lead to his death. We are reminded that John wasn’t yet in prison. The Gospel writer was speaking to a knowing audience who knew what happened to John. And he calls attention to the fact that John was still working, despite his personal numbers going towards zero.
John’s response to those who questioned cuts to the heart of the matter. We are given what we are given by God. It wasn’t up to John how his numbers were going to go. What was up to John was whether or not he was going to continue being obedient to God’s call in the face of the decline. John did. I’m sure he heard, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” because John faithfully carried out His part of growing the Kingdom.
We also don’t hear any jealousy or envy in John’s words. Tomorrow we will look at the rest of his response, and none of it indicates any sort of bitterness over the change in circumstances. John saw eternity. He saw Messiah across the way and knew God’s people, including John himself, now had hope. Not the hope that many envisioned, because Jesus didn’t come to conquer Rome, but the hope they actually needed, for Jesus came to conquer sin and death permanently.
Whatever your circumstances, remember God is the one who gives, even in the midst of our troubles. Even if earthly matters aren’t going so well, eternal ones will always go better than we deserve if we belong to Jesus. Salvation comes from Him and Him alone and no one can take that away. Knowing this, we should spur ourselves to remain obedient to God, to continue praising Him, and keep doing our part of the Kingdom work faithfully and strongly. God will see us through. It doesn’t matter if someone momentarily has it better than us here on earth. What matters is we have an eternal reward that can’t be matched by any circumstance or treasure here and now. Let us rejoice and praise God, regardless of our current conditions!