Wednesday, January 27, 2021
And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. 15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
Many of you have been so kind to let us know that you have been thinking of and praying for our family as we have entered into the adoption process. Several have asked if we have received any additional news or word about our little girl in China, Lydia Shan, or when we might get the chance to go get her and bring her home. Initially we were hopeful that it might be sometime this spring, but now we have been told to expect early fall, and realistically we are just hoping for some time in this calendar year. As you might imagine in the midst of a pandemic and hundreds of anxious families concerned for the well-being of the children they have been matched with, almost all of whom have some sort of medical special need, updates have been few and far between. While it is somewhat comforting to know that we are not the only ones experiencing these delays, it would be disingenuous to imply that we are “okay” with everything. The truth is that things are frustrating, to say the least. Although we still firmly believe that this is something God has called us to do as a family, at times it is discouraging that things are not moving along at the speed which we would like, and there are even moments where we begin to wonder just what exactly God is up to.
We’ve all been there. Certain that we were making the right decision. Positive we were doing what God wanted, even called us, to do, only to encounter delay after delay, setback after setback. As soon as James, John, Peter, and Jesus came back down following their incredible mountain-top experience together, before they even had a chance to share what had transpired, the harsh reality of the world hit them like a ton of bricks. They came upon the other disciples defending themselves from the verbal attacks of the Jewish scribes and surrounded by a great crowd. When the people realized Jesus was approaching, everyone left the squabble and ran over to Jesus. As he sought answers about the commotion, a man in the crowd called out to reveal that he had brought his only son to the disciples for healing. But unlike previous times when they had successfully served as conduits of the power of God, this time nothing happened.
The father explained that an evil spirit within the boy had completely taken over, causing violent seizures, foaming at the mouth, and rendering him not only speechless, but totally unresponsive. The demon had self-destructive tendencies that, without warning, cast the boy down into fire or water. The desperate father had come with the gruesomely charred and scarred shell of his son, begging and pleading for help, but to no avail. Pouncing on the opportunity to catch the followers of Jesus in a rare moment of weakness, the scribes exacerbated the situation by loudly proclaiming their failure to help the boy to everyone within earshot.
After listening to the man and assessing the situation, Jesus replied, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” Knowing what lay before Him in Jerusalem, and weary and frustrated with the lack of faith demonstrated by every one in every part of what was happening in front of Him, Jesus went to work. As the father finished filling Jesus in on the details of his son’s condition, he closed with the statement: “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Honestly, the man’s statement comes across as perfectly natural. After all that he has endured, it is easy to understand why he may not have been one hundred percent convinced of Jesus’ ability to make everything better.
But Jesus saw this doubt, however small, and showed him the error in his thinking, saying, “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.” My translation: You know that God can do anything you ask. You came here because you knew it was possible. You are so close to what you seek, don’t lose heart now.
Immediately the man corrected himself and cried out, with perhaps the greatest words we could ever offer to Jesus: “I believe; help my unbelief!” Just as quickly, Jesus rebuked the spirit and, in a scene straight out of a horror film, the boy screamed and convulsed terribly, and when everything finally stopped and the dust had settled he appeared to be nothing more than a lifeless corpse. But Jesus stooped down, took him by the hand, and returned the restored boy to his speechless father. Scripture does not record the man’s reaction but it is safe to assume that this was a most emotional and joyous reunion.
Moments later, as they regrouped inside the house, the disciples still could not understand what happened. Before Jesus arrived they had tried the exact same thing that He had. They didn’t understand how come He was successful and they were not. Jesus responded with an answer that every believer, no matter the circumstance, must remember: “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
Their failure resulted not from a lack of compassion or proper methodology. They appeared to have done the right thing from the right motivation, but they had apparently relied upon their own power rather than seeking the power of God. In fact, it was the same thing with the father. The man had the right motivation, and he did the right thing, but he lacked true faith in Jesus’ ability to bring the healing that he sought.
This all leads us to the question: What about us? Have we done the right things for the right reasons and yet failed to completely rely upon the Lord to do the things that only He can do? I’ll admit right here, I do this all the time. But Jesus does not invite us into His family so that we can always get all of the results that we seek. Instead He uses every thing, every circumstance, every situation, to bring us closer to Himself. He strips away our self reliance, at times even in publicly humiliating ways, so that we can finally get to the place where we remember that we are nothing without Him and we must rely upon Him and Him alone.
When life is hard and the way is difficult, may we remember that God is interested in more than just results. He cares out every aspect of our lives. He not only holds the whole world in His hands, but He stoops low and grabs us by the hand. Even in the most difficult trials of life anything is possible for the one who believes in Him.
Prayer for Today:
Lord Jesus, today we echo the prayer of the desperate father, “We believe, help our unbelief!” Help us to remember and believe the things that we so easily profess. Remind us of Your unfailing love and unmerited grace. You know our hearts and we long for You to be at work in our lives. Give us peace and patience as we rest upon the promises in Your Word. In Your forever faithful name we pray, Amen.