“When they came back down the mountain to the other disciples, they saw a huge crowd around them, and the religion scholars cross-examining them. As soon as the people in the crowd saw Jesus, admiring excitement stirred them. They ran and greeted him. He asked, ‘What’s going on? What’s all the commotion?’
A man out of the crowd answered, ‘Teacher, I brought my mute son, made speechless by a demon, to you. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and goes stiff as a board. I told your disciples, hoping they could deliver him, but they couldn’t.’
Jesus said, ‘What a generation! No sense of God! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here.’ They brought him. When the demon saw Jesus, it threw the boy into a seizure, causing him to writhe on the ground and foam at the mouth.
He asked the boy’s father, ‘How long has this been going on?’
‘Ever since he was a little boy. Many times it pitches him into fire or the river to do away with him. If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!’
Jesus said, ‘If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.’
No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, ‘Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!’ Seeing that the crowd was forming fast, Jesus gave the vile spirit its marching orders: ‘Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you—Out of him, and stay out!’ Screaming, and with much thrashing about, it left. The boy was pale as a corpse, so people started saying, ‘He’s dead.’ But Jesus, taking his hand, raised him. The boy stood up.” Mark 9: 14-27 (MSG)
Uncertainty is everywhere. We don’t know what is going to happen in the future. We don’t know if people are going to keep their word. We don’t know if we can count on our friends. The uncertainty of life can cause us to become skeptical. But, we are not just skeptical about people and things; we transfer that questioning and start to doubt God.
This man was in a desperate situation. His child was possessed by a demon, and it was endangering his life. This man stood back and watched his son experience the torment, feeling helpless to do anything. When he went to Jesus, he told him the situation. He told him about how the disciples already tried to help but could do nothing. Desperation began to build in his heart. It seemed that Jesus was the only answer, but he just didn’t know if he should get his hopes up. So, he said to Jesus, “If you can do anything, do it.” He has thought through all of his options; he has heard of Jesus healing and delivering people from their bondage. With a heart of a parent desperate to help his child, he didn’t tell Jesus what to do; he simply asked that if there was some way to change his son’s situation that Jesus would do it. But, the word “if” shows us something about this man’s faith. He wasn’t quite sure if he could believe. He wasn’t convinced that he could have faith in Jesus. And as soon as the man made his request, Jesus challenged his doubt. He responded by nullifying the word “if.” And through confronting his doubts, the man had a choice: he could be all in or passively stand on the sidelines. In that moment, he chose belief over doubt, and it changed everything. The man didn’t have anywhere else to turn, and in turning to Jesus, he found the things he needed. What situations in your life are you staring at and wondering if God can do anything? Can He heal your body? Can He restore your marriage? Can He provide a job for you to support your family? We tend to think “if only He could do it.” Our confidence in God is small, because our doubt is standing in front of our faith. What if He doesn’t come through for me? What if I put my hope in Him and I’m disappointed? We stand on the shaky ground of “if” when Jesus is asking us to simply believe that He can. We have a choice every day whether or not we are going to believe God and His Word. We don’t know what would have happened if this man didn’t admit his doubt and state his faith. Maybe it’s time for us to confront our doubts and ask God to infuse fresh faith into our hearts. In a parallel passage of this account in Luke 9:43a (MSG), it says, “They all shook their heads in wonder, astonished at God’s greatness, God’s majestic greatness.” This man’s moment of choosing faith over doubt resulted in a miracle that exemplified God’s greatness. And when you choose faith over doubt, you have the same opportunity to display God’s miraculous power to those around you.
Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.