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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Mark 9:14–29

When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.” He answered them, “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!” After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “This kind can come out only through prayer.” (NRSV)

Reflection
I try to imagine what I would do if my child was convulsing to the point of being near death. I would say anything to save to him, to relieve his torment, his pain.

Responding to Jesus’ challenge, the father cries out, “I believe; help my disbelief.” He declares that he believes. Yet he also declares that he has his doubts, his times of disbelief.

His words sound so honest, so human. With so much at stake, he trusts that Jesus will accept him as he is and save his son, despite his disbelief.

Would I be so honest? With Jesus? With myself?

I like to think I’m a strong believer. I believe in God’s amazing power and majesty. In God’s infinite capacity for love and forgiveness.

But I also have my moments of disbelief. As we once again journey with Jesus as he heads to his destiny on the cross, I pause. My own “doubting Thomas” appears. I can believe Jesus could heal this young boy. Yet Easter asks me to believe that God resurrected Jesus from the dead. That Jesus once again walked among us. I remember in high school struggling with Jesus’ resurrection. Like Thomas, I wanted proof.

At this point in my life, however, I no longer need “proof.” God helped my disbelief long ago, by accepting me for who I am. A very human, flawed, sinful person. If God can forgive and accept me, with all my brokenness, I believe God can do anything.

Prayer
Dear God, help me with my disbelief. On challenging days, when I feel overwhelmed and begin to doubt, remind me that you are with me, guiding me and sustaining me, giving me the strength to live my life as you would have me live it. Amen.

Written by Ed Miller, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church


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