Have you been there? I know I have. Gosh, it can be so hard to stay positive when things feel hopeless or when you just can't see how things will be better. There was a man in Mark that knew this feeling well. You can read all about him in Chapter 9 of Mark. He had a son who had a tormenting spirit inside of him. This spirit would take control of the boy's body, making him convulse and roll around, so much so that he would often roll into fire or water. The father believed the spirit was trying to kill him in this way. I can't imagine this father's pain and feeling of helplessness for his son. As a mother it pains me when my children are sick, I imagine the craziest things when a high fever spikes and if I'm not careful fear can easily take hold. I can only imagine the agony the father was feeling, knowing he could not help him on his own.
The father said no one had been able to help his son, not even the disciples were able to help the boy. In Mark it says the scribes were present arguing with a crowd of people. I imagine the scribes might have been saying things like, "His/your sins are too great." "The boy cannot be healed." "His disciples can't even heal your son." "If He is the Son of God, where is He now?". I imagine he felt like giving up, hopeless, heartbroken, frustrated, exhausted, and the faithless words of others spoken over them resounding in his mind feeding his lack of faith. We hear things like this from people when bad things happen today, we may even be guilty of thinking or saying similar questions. We are quick to ask where God is when bad things happen and Satan is quicker at putting those thoughts in our heads as a method of attack on our faith.
When Jesus approached, the father alluded to his faith crisis when he said, "If you can do anything..". He had allowed his earthly experiences and others around him to affect his faith rather than letting God affect his faith. He had probably also let the disciples' inability to heal his son affect his faith in Jesus' ability. Yet instead of rebuking him, Jesus gently corrected his unbelief and reminded him that with faith anything is possible. And maybe because of Jesus' gentle response, the man admitted he was lacking enough faith and asked for help instead of defending. He had belief, but it was small and his doubt seemed bigger. Yet, no matter how big our doubts or situation seems, Jesus is always bigger. At the command of Jesus, the boy was healed. Much like God spoke creation into existence (Genesis 3), not even an evil spirit can ignore the command of the Son of God. He is THAT big.
While the disciples had access to this power through prayer, according to His will, I think they may have forgotten. They relied on Jesus' physical presence to help them, but as soon as he went for a walk to the mountain and they couldn't see Him, they forgot what they had learned. They let what was going on around them to affect their impact. And even after this, He still had to teach them, reminding them of the power of faith and prayer. I am all too often guilty of forgetting the power of Jesus and letting doubt creep in, especially if I don't "feel" His presence; of letting the world around me affect my faith, making me forget that there is a battle going on that I can't see (Ephesians 6:12). But, remembering produces faith and forgetting produces doubt. So we must be on constant guard, stop allowing feelings to guide us, keep in relationship with God, and remember His promises to us. I pray that if you are feeling hopeless, that there isn't redemption in your story, or that there isn't an end to the darkness in your valley just yet, that you will cry out to Him. He's got you.
Enabling people to mend the wounds of yesterday so they can fully embrace the gift of today.