Herod on his birthday gave a banquet ... when Herodias's daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl ... "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom." ... And she said, "The head of John the Baptist." ... And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. ... When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. (Mark 6:21b, 22a, 23, 24b, 27, 29)
John's death reminds us that faith in Jesus is not a fairytale—that sometimes things go badly, badly wrong, even for believers, and yet God is still in control. John was the final prophet born by miracle, who was to go before Jesus and prepare the way. And yet look how he died—unjustly, alone in prison, seemingly abandoned by God and by Jesus Himself.
It would have been easy for John to lose faith—to decide that there was no God, or that God was untrustworthy and not worth serving. He must have wondered why Jesus did not do a miracle and get him out of prison. And in the dark nights when we face a new cancer diagnosis—when we sit by the phone, fearing it will ring—when we come to the end of a marriage or the loss of someone we love—we may have doubts, too.
And yet—we know the Lord. We know what He is like—that He loves us, that He lay down His life for us, that He warned us ahead of time we would have trouble—and that He promised always to be with us. He has shown us these things in our lives. We may not be able to hold on to Him—but He can hold on to us, even in the darkest times.
THE PRAYER: Lord, hold on to me when I cannot hold on to You. Amen.
* When do you have doubts?
* How do you cope with these doubts?
* What does it mean to you, to know that God allowed John to face such a difficult end?
Lenten Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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