Today brings us to a culminating musing for this particular passage of Scripture, Mark 9:14-29, at this time. Undoubtedly, we may revisit principles contained within it at a future time before this period of lockdown and global crisis due to the coronavirus has ended. I have named these series of entries “The Difficult Ones” because the passage highlights the workings of the Lord when all who were engaged in this event were impacted in some way due to the extended length of possession by this demonic entity that manifested itself in a physical incapacitation; along with having to confront the intensity of the possession, and the stubbornness and unwillingness of this spirit to let go of its subject, the young boy.
There was disappointment at multiple levels. The crowd, who anticipated a healing, was disappointed. The father who loved his son, and the boy who was bound by the spirit, were left to deal with the same frustrating circumstances. The disciples were embarrassed at their inability to act effectively in the Master’s stead. Jesus Himself was dismayed at the overall lack of faith. This was a disappointing situation, indeed. But alas, we serve a Savior who operates in and brings hope to places of difficulty.
The following words describing the dialogue between Christ and the forlorn father of the possessed lad should bring hope to each of us in the darkness of this present hour: Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been going on?” He said, “Since he was a child. It has often thrown him into a fire or into water trying to kill him. If you can do anything, help us! Show us compassion!” Jesus said to him, “If you can do anything? All things are possible for the one who has faith.” At that the boy’s father cried out, “I have faith; help my lack of faith!” (Mark 9:21–24 CEB). It is this tragic, passionate cry for help on the part of this child’s father that pulls this whole narrative together. It’s almost as if in speaking for himself and for the others who are a part of this event, he conveys the difficulty in believing when everything points to a negative outcome—indeed he may be speaking for most of us as well. He has faith because he asked Christ for help. Yet there is a tentativeness embedded within his faith reflected in his usage of the word if. Christ chides him for employing that term and reminds him of the unlimited possibilities that will be unleashed upon his and any reality if he simply has faith. The father steps out on Jesus’ challenge to have faith, but yet in being transparent about vestiges of unbelief, he asks the Lord to help him where his faith is lacking.
Today, our Lord Jesus Christ challenges you and I to trust Him as we navigate the unchartered waters of a major worldwide health crisis of epic proportions. May we have faith in Him. May we also exercise faith in the spaces of our unbelief and amid our believing, by trusting Him to transform that unbelief into belief. In this dire hour, our faith will grow! Let’s trust God for it!
Yours in His Service,
Bishop Lambert W. Gates, Sr.