Posted: 2/21/20 at 2:10pm. Column by Ed Jordan.
Have you ever had a crisis of faith in your life, when you believed that God could do something to help your situation, but then also at the same time doubted if he would do it?
This is the situation in which we find the man in Mark 9:21—27. Jesus had taken Peter, James, and John up to a very high mountain, and when they came back down they found the other disciples being criticized by a crowd of religious leaders, as well as many ordinary people who had gathered—longing to be close to Jesus.
Jesus asked what the argument was about, and a man came up to Jesus saying that he had brought his son, who was possessed by an evil spirit, to see if Jesus could rescue his son from the torturing demon.
But in the absence of Jesus, the disciples had tried and failed to heal the man’s son. Jesus told them to bring the boy to him. The father told Jesus that his son had been afflicted since childhood and that the evil spirit would throw the boy down into fire or water to try to kill him.
The boy had also been unable to speak or hear from childhood. As the boy with the evil spirit approached Jesus, the boy was suddenly immobilized by the demon, throwing the boy into convulsions and foaming at the mouth.
The boy’s father asked Jesus in Mark 9:22: “… But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Here we see that the man had enough faith in Jesus to bring his son to try to get help. He believed that Jesus was the only hope of his son being set free to live a normal life.
Jesus’s reaction is wonderful, as he says to the Father in vs. 23: “’If you can?’ Everything is possible for the one who believes.” Believes here is a present active participle, meaning “is believing,” or “keeps on believing.”
Jesus repeated the man’s statement: “If you can” which has the meaning of Jesus responding: “If I can? If I can?” which was an affirmation that Jesus most definitely could do something, but the man needed to move from asking God for a mere possibility to asking God while truly believing that God could do what he was asking.
Hebrews 11:6 (CSB) says: “Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.”
The man responded to Jesus, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” He was saying, I do believe, but I am weak and have doubts too. Perhaps he was saying: I do believe You can do it, but I struggle with believing that You will do it.
Most of us believe that God is capable of doing anything as God. But we struggle with whether God will do something for us. We rationalize that he might do it for some people, but would he do it for me, when I struggle with even going to church or reading the Bible?
Then again, Jesus taught us to pray, “God, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.” And again, “If we ask anything in accordance with God’s will,” we will have what we request.” But in creeps that qualifier, “If it is God’s will, or is accordance with God’s will.”
What if what I am asking is not God’s will at this point in time or for my situation? Therefore our believing is sometimes a struggle, because while we know that God can do something—anything—we are prone to doubt that he would do it for us.
So how can we believe God can do it and keep believing that God will do something?
First we must firmly believe that God can do it—can do anything presented to him. Second, believe that God is good, and all wise, and keep trusting God to do something in the situation.
What God does, the way God does it, and when God does it, is God’s decision to make.
So we can doggedly and confidently believe that God has heard us and will do something that is aligned with his will in the situation. Our belief must be in him and his faithfulness to intervene, not in our predefined solution to the problem.
We keep on believing that the method or way of God’s intervention will be in accordance with bringing about God’s will being done in the situation. God can do anything; there is no “If.”