We sang it on Sunday.
And as we sang, I wondered how many people were actually thinking about the words.
And how many of them felt like they were lying.
It was the bridge to a song talking about the goodness of God that went, “You’re never gonna let, never gonna let me down. No, You’re never gonna let, never gonna let me down.”
And how many people sang it but were thinking, “But God, You did let me down! You didn’t answer my prayers…
…because You allowed my marriage to fall apart.”
…because my friend still died from cancer.”
…because I still lost the house to the bank.”
…because my child still died.”
Or maybe they sang it and thought, “Well, God, I guess that must be true for other people. But I sure don’t feel that way for me.”
I fear that some just sang it and never even thought about the words. They just did the next thing in church so that box could be checked.
Here is the truth: In this life, you are going to feel like God has let you down.
Because, in this life, He is not always going to do what you want.
What you feel is best.
What you deeply long for Him to do.
And when He doesn’t do what you are convinced you NEED Him to do, you are disappointed.
Jesus knew we would feel this way.
He knew that we would, indeed, feel like He let us down.
Like He doesn’t care.
Like He is powerless.
Or like He has power but refuses to act.
His cousin John experienced it first-hand.
John had a call on his life that began while he was still in the womb.
His mother, Elizabeth, was too old to bear children.
And yet God had given her and Zechariah a special child for a special purpose.
He was the standard-bearer for the coming Messiah.
The one who would go before Him, telling people He was coming, and warning them to make their lives ready.
And John did that.
He had followers of his own, disciples who hung on his every word.
And yet he encouraged them to follow Jesus when He appeared on the scene.
John knew his place.
He exalted Jesus every chance he got.
Praised Him publicly.
Rightfully declared His glory.
He even said, “Jesus must increase and I must decrease.”
John did everything he was supposed to do.
Gave up a “normal” life to be the ‘voice of one shouting in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord!”’
And where did exalting Jesus get him?
King Herod’s dungeon.
Locked up for telling the Truth.
And it seems that John expected Jesus to do something about it!
Perhaps he expected Jesus to come and denounce Herod’s sin and demand his release.
Perhaps he expected Jesus to do something miraculous and loose his chains, setting him free.
Perhaps he expected at least a visit from Jesus.
We don’t know his exact expectations.
But we do know that he was disappointed.
Because he sent some of his faithful friends with a message for Jesus.
“Are you really the one we have been looking for, the Messiah sent from God? Or should we be looking for someone else?”
All John could see was his pain.
The ways Jesus had let him down.
And Jesus’ reply to John is both crushing and healing at the same time.
Luke 7 says that John’s disciples got to Jesus as he was in the middle healing many, many people, those with “illnesses, diseases and evil spirits”. He even restored the sight of the blind while these men watched.
And then Jesus turned to them and said, “Go and tell John about everything you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the good news (gospel) preached to them.”
In other words, “John, look.I have fulfilled all the hallmarks of the Messiah. I am who you think I am.”
But then Jesus added this:
“Blessed [joyful, spiritually favored] is he who does not take offense at Me.”
Jesus didn’t say, “I won’t offend you.”
Nor did he apologize for John’s circumstances.
He said, “John, look around at the evidence of who I am. And then choose to trust Me, even when I offend you.”
When God doesn’t do what you want Him to do, He is still God.
And He has a higher purpose in mind.
He sees the WHOLE picture and not just the tiny part you are in at the moment.
He sees all of eternity and knows that this pain, these circumstances, this sorrow are all just specks on the timeline of your real, eternal life if you know Him as Savior.
If you have accepted His gift of salvation, these things are the only hell you will ever know.
And they are painful.
And most definitely not the way it is supposed to be.
But they are temporary.
While He is not.
And not only is He eternal,
but He is good.
Infinitely, completely, utterly good.
Even when you don’t feel like He is.
Even when you are overwhelmed by pain.
As Casting Crowns sings in “Just Be Held”:
“If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will.”
So blessed are you when you look beyond what is happening and seek His face.
Blessed are you when you choose to trust even when you don’t understand.
Blessed are you when you believe in the goodness of God even when all evidence your eyes can see points to the contrary.
Blessed are you when you recognize that a good Dad allows painful things in the life of His child for a higher purpose.
Blessed are you when you remember that this life is extraordinarily temporary and that what really matters is the eternal.
I heard a speaker recently say, “Don’t allow your experiences to limit your theology.”
In other words, blessed are you when you choose to not be offended by Him.
Then you can sing, “You’re never gonna let me down” – and mean it.