Mark 9:23-24 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Matthew’s telling of this episode came up in the readings July 26th, but this little interchange between the father of the boy and Jesus is too important to skip over. Jesus’ statement that “Everything is possible for him who believes,” is something He said several times in different ways, but it is the father’s response that rings true for probably every honest believer. We believe, but our faith seems very shaky at times. We honestly want to believe more, but sometimes it seems like a huge obstacle. I think it comes back to our focus on ourselves: how much do I believe. The object of our faith is much more important! We are too prone to see God as either a cruel taskmaster or as an indulgent Santa, and either of those is far off the mark, even though they each contain an element of truth. It is true that God is absolutely holy, and as such no element of impurity can come near Him without being destroyed. Peter rightly quoted God’s words in Leviticus: “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16) However, God is also love itself, (1 John 4:8) and that love is so intense that it caused Him to send His Son to take the penalty for our sins and die in our place, redeeming us to eternal life. (John 3:16-17) However, that doesn’t make him an indulgent Santa. He wants what is best for us, and like any wise parent, He knows that giving us what we ask for isn’t always the best thing for us. We’ve got to remember that He knows the end from the beginning, and trust Him with it all. From our perspective we may see lots of ugly knots, but from His perspective He sees the beautiful tapestry He is creating in and through our life. When we are focused on our faith, we can lose sight of Him for whom all of creation was just a matter of speaking it out, expressing His will.
This certainly applies to me! I can’t remember ever not knowing about Jesus, and I proclaimed my love for Him to my parents at a very young age, but that doesn’t mean my whole life has been an example of mountain-moving faith. I identify a great deal with the father in this story! I don’t doubt at all that God exists, and that He loves me, but that has got to be expressed in daily, obedient trust. Yesterday I was given appointments for tests and surgery that I am told are for a third basal cell carcinoma, but the fact that this one didn’t look like the others, the urgency with which the hospital seems to be acting, and my not having had radiology tests before my previous surgeries, makes me question the diagnostic report. This is a good exercise in using the faith I have! God knows the true diagnosis, and He is more than able to take care of whatever the issue is, so as He has told me many times before, I’m to rest, relax, and rejoice. This is coming at a very busy time for me, with my photo show starting next week (I’ll have to duck out for the CT scan) and giving exams just before I enter the hospital for surgery, and that greatly intensifies the “faith training.” I can’t complain, any more than I could complain in more than words during my Army training. Rather, I need to rejoice that God knows what is best for me and for Cathy, and He is working it out on His schedule for His glory.
Father, thank You for loving me so much. I do ask You to deal with my persistent unbelief, just as this father prayed, so that I may be the son and the servant that You desire, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!