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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, March 17, 2018

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)

In this story, which tells of Jesus healing an epileptic, what speaks to me is the disciples asking, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” Again and again I am confronted with situations where the behavior of others is beyond my understanding and certainly beyond my control. Yet, I want to do something to “help,” to change them, to fix them. 

My belief in myself, my own capabilities, my ability to understand, comprehend, and figure out what’s really going on, is almost without limit. Yet that confidence, which I tell myself is based on a past history of successfully navigating my way through life often blinds me to real understanding, acceptance, and faith. I desperately need to listen to Jesus’ condemning question, “How long do I need to put up with you?” Then ask the same of myself, my arrogant, self-assured confidant ego, “How long?” 

I know in my heart that instead of believing that there is always something that I could do, what I really need to do is humble myself, accept what is, and believe.

Dear Lord, grant me the humility to accept my limitations and to embrace the mysteries of the divine. Give me the wisdom to accept things as they are and the faith to trust in you and your unending grace. Amen.

Written by John Shorney, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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