John the Baptist beheaded. Sometimes the good news will never come. John the Baptist was a faithful prophet of God. His life had been a hard one, born to an old man and old woman, who, according to tradition died when he was still quite young, he had spent most of his life living in the desert, subsisting on whatever food he could find there, usually bugs and sometimes a bit of wild honey. After announcing that his cousin, Jesus, was the Messiah, he saw his followers drift away after the new man; although he understood it had to be that way, he was still human.
Then, after criticizing the king and his wife, he found himself arrested and kept in a prison; at last, to satisfy the vengeance of the king’s wife, the king—on account of a drunken promise to a dancing strumpet, his wife’s daughter—has him beheaded. So John died, alone and on a whim.
There was no last minute rescue; there was no happy ending.
The words of the author of Hebrews are important to consider when life turns out this badly:
There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.