In the gospel of Mark, chapter 9, we find a man whose son was possessed by a demon; and the demon kept trying to kill the man’s son. So, the man goes looking for Jesus. But instead, he finds nine of his disciples. He asks them for help, and they fail.
Just then Jesus comes down from the mountain with Peter, James, and John (this is just after the Transfiguration) and the man, desperate, goes to Jesus and says ‘your disciples couldn’t do a thing’.
Mark 9:14-18 And when [Jesus] came to the disciples he saw a great crowd around them, and scribes disputing against them. And immediately all the crowd seeing him were amazed, and running to [him], saluted him. And he asked them, What do ye question with them about?
And one out of the crowd answered him, Teacher, I brought to thee my son, who has a dumb spirit; and wheresoever it seizes him it tears him, and he foams and gnashes his teeth, and he is withering away. And I spoke to thy disciples, that they might cast him out, and they could not.
The recrimination in the man’s voice is hard to miss: “I brought thee my son”. You can almost hear the rest of the turmoil in his heart: ‘I needed you. I came here, what else was I supposed to do? And you weren’t here…’
Have you ever said that to God? I have… ‘Where were you? You knew I needed you!’
And Jesus’ answer is not exactly what I am wanting to hear: He tells the man and the crowd, ‘You are the problem; you don’t believe.’
Mark 9:19-20 But he answering them says, O unbelieving generation! how long shall I be with you? how long shall I bear with you? bring him to me.
And they brought him to him. And seeing him the spirit immediately tore him; and falling upon the earth he rolled foaming.
Then Jesus turns to the father and asks point blank: how long has this been going on? And the father is forced to admit that it has been going on for a long time…
Mark 9:21-22a And he asked his father, How long a time is it that it has been like this with him? And he said, From childhood; and often it has cast him both into fire and into waters that it might destroy him:
And I have always imagined there is a pause here as the man finishes his answer to Jesus’ question. He hangs in there, waiting for Jesus to say something or do something. And Jesus says nothing; worse, He just looks at me.
Have you ever had to face that question? How long has this been going on? It bites. It bites because it is a fact that a lot of the things that go wrong in our lives are our fault.
Yes, this is a fallen world… but that is so because of people like me and you! We mess up and we don’t know how to fix the problem, and instead of admitting it and looking for help, we keep on going pretending it’ll get better someday. Well, I’ve got news for you: not in this world.
But one day desperation sets in and we can make a different choice. This father did:
Mark 9:22b-23 but if thou couldst [do] anything, be moved with pity on us, and help us. And Jesus said to him, The ‘if thou couldst’ is [if thou couldst] believe: all things are possible to him that believes.
If the question, ‘how long?’ bit, this reply really tears. At the father’s cry for help, Jesus replies, ‘It’s not whether I can do it or not… the real question is, can you?’ He puts the problem back on his lap. And that is where it belongs.
Because it IS my problem. If I have brought this on myself, then there is no use denying it, there is no use trying to avoid it. This is my responsibility. And I’d better own up to it and do something.
But, Hallelujah! That something is not to solve the problem… I know I can’t, it is beyond my strength. But there is something I can do; and that is all that Jesus requires: Believe.
Mark 9:24 And immediately the father of the young child crying out said [with tears], I believe, help mine unbelief.
Mark 9:25-27 But Jesus, seeing that [the] crowd was running up together, rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, *I* command thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. And having cried out and torn [him] much, he came out; and he became as if dead, so that the most said, He is dead. But Jesus, having taken hold of him by the hand, lifted him up, and he arose.
How much faith do you have right now?
Whatever it is, in God’s hands, it’s enough.
It doesn’t take tons of faith to follow Jesus. All it takes is whatever you have, right now, if you will place it in His hands. Then let Him do the rest. This is lesson number six of this series: This lesson applies to Faith.
And the final lesson is this: It doesn’t matter where you are or who you are.
We talked about a poor widow, a rich woman, a Jewish father… No matter where we are, or who we are, what we have is more than enough in God’s hands. The question is, are we willing to make the choice, are we willing to ask Him to take over and let Him use our lives for His glory?
What you have, right now, is enough in God’s hands.
- The first lesson: Despair is a good thing when it moves us to ask. You don’t have to have a plan to ask.
- The second lesson: Never let despair make you think you have nothing left because even if everything has been taken away, you always have enough breath to ask…
- The third lesson: Whatever you do have left, in God’s hands it is more than enough for Him to carry out His plan.
- The fourth lesson: In the good times, never lose sight of what really matters. Look at what God has given you, specially relationships of love, and then in gratitude pass it on: bless others.
- Lesson 5: When you know that you know you need Him, go, run, cling to Him and don’t let go because in His presence there is always Hope.
- Number six: This whole lesson applies to Faith… How much do you have right now? It is enough to choose to give Him your life – enough to follow Him from now on…
- Seven: It doesn’t matter where you have come from or where you are.