One of our core values at 1st Faith is transparency. This isn’t about spilling every secret failing all over the internet, but it is to say we’ve got to be real with you; our readers and followers.
And one of these real moments I can identify with is the story of the man with the demon-possessed son in Mark 9. No, I don’t have a demon-possessed son, at least not that I know of. Still, I have a connection with this guy.
To set the scene; the chapter begins with Peter, James and John accompanying Jesus to a mountaintop where Jesus is suddenly transfigured before them. His garments turn radiant and in the midst of this scene, Moses and Elijah appear and begin talking with Jesus.
Peter–and I love this because I could be Peter in a second–says in Kirk’s language, “Hey, let’s build some buildings to commemorate this moment!”
But just as Peter gets the words out of his mouth, a cloud forms and God’s voice comes forth (I’m guessing God sounds like Morgan Freeman here, but that’s just me), “This is my beloved son, listen to him.”
It’s an awe-inspiring scene, but after the four come down from the mountain they run smack into reality. A crowd is gathered around the man with the demon-possessed son and things are getting dicey. The father, who has to be at the end of his rope, says, “Teacher, I brought you my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out.”
The father isn’t finished. “I told your disciples to cast it out and they could not do it.”
Jesus shows a bit of frustration but finally says, “Bring him to me.”
An interaction with the father ensues, and Jesus asks, “How long has this been happening to him?”
As the boy writhes on the ground, the father says all of this has been going on since childhood. “But, if you can do anything,” the father asks, “take pity on us and help us!”
Here’s the money moment, at least for me. Jesus responds, “If you can? All things are possible to him who believes.”
The dad’s answer shows me what “real” looks like. “I do believe,” he says. “Help my unbelief.”
I get it. Too well. This man had been living in this awful reality with his son for years and years. Every. Single. Day.
What is it like to never know what you’re going to wake up to? Will my son have another seizure today? Will he break things today? Will we be in public when he falls to the ground and foams at the mouth?
I cannot imagine. It’s no wonder the dad wants to believe, but can’t quite seem to get there.
What gives me hope is how Jesus deals with this. Instead of trying to debate how much faith the dad must have, he commands the spirit to leave the son. For perhaps the first time in his life, the son is free and the dad–my goodness–what must he have been thinking at that moment as all of his pain melted away?
My life can often be an “I believe, help my unbelief” story. While part of me can see God’s hand at work and I want to have the faith Jesus did, the other part of me sees reality and decides that in this situation–whatever the situation is–I’ve got to live with it because nothing is going to change.
But it’s okay for me to say, “Help my unbelief.” Whatever little belief I have, it’s a start. And God can work with that much. Jesus figured this out, and God moved through him to heal a boy who knew nothing but chaos.
But here’s the flip side: While this situation resulted in an incredible miracle, I can’t forget that faith is more than the hope of God doing something amazing and life-changing. Sometimes, faith is as simple as trusting even when circumstances say, “It’s time to give up on God.”
In “The Faith Chapter” of Hebrews 11, we see God doing the amazing. But at the end of a chapter describing miracles of faith, we see this same faith providing hope for martyrs; those who “were sawn in two,” who were “put to death with a sword,” and more. These people had belief beyond what I can imagine, because they trusted God beyond what they could see in this life.
As I grow in this journey, my hope is my faith will become an incredible trust in God–regardless of what I see in front of me. If one day I can have the faith of the dad in Mark 9 and the faith of those who trusted in the face of death, I’ll be doing okay.
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