the offence of unanswered prayers

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” [Matthew 11:2-6 ESV]

John the Baptist is in a jail cell and he wonders.
Is Jesus really the one promised who will set the captives free.
He wants Jesus to set him free from prison.

This passage breaks my heart.
I can hear the sadness in John's voice as he speaks through his friends.
John has been expecting Jesus to rescue him and Jesus has not come.

His question to Jesus is a desperate cry for help.
Yet the Lord does not give any indication that he will free John.
His cry for help reminds me of how many of us pray and are disappointed.

Unanswered prayers are so difficult because of the pain we experience.
Sometimes that pain can be transformed into offence at the Lord.
We can be offended that He does not come to our rescue.

To John, and to us, Jesus offers advice when our prayers are unanswered.
He says that there is a blessing to be had when we are not offended.
In a sense, faith is all about our reactions to unanswered prayers.

We are blessed when we trust the Father when answers do not come.
We mature spiritually when we release our pain and offences to Jesus.
And we find healing when we allow the Holy Spirit to embrace us.

Life can be hard Lord. Help me to keep my heart free of offence.

... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

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