IF…


My favorite verse in the Bible for the past few years has been Mark 9:24. A father has brought his only son so that Jesus could cast out a demon from him. But when He arrives, He learns that Jesus has gone up the mountain, leaving the disciples in charge. They try over and over to cast out the demon with no success.

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By the time Jesus returns from the mountain, it’s a circus. A huge crowd has gathered, and the disciples are in a fight with the legal experts of the day about the boy’s condition and what to do about it.

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The boy’s father cries out from the crowd and explains the situation. Jesus rebukes the disciples (they failed to have faith that God could or would cast out the demon) and asks that the boy be brought to Him. When the boy sees Jesus, the demon throws the boy to the ground, foaming at the mouth. All eyes are on Jesus to see what He will do.

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Jesus, diagnosing the problem, asks the father for some background information, and the father tells him that the boy has been afflicted since he was young. Often the demon would throw him into the fire or into the water to try and kill the boy. In the next statement, the father’s heart is revealed:

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“But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”

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“If.” It’s the biggest two-letter word in the dictionary. It often communicates more than we intended to say, showing our doubts and our fears. It might be appropriate when we are talking about the capacity of a friend or a boss or a loved one, but it’s misplaced when talking about the capacity of God. With God, it’s never “if He can;” it’s only “if He will.”

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Jesus’ reply might have included emphasis on His first word:

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If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

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“It’s not about My capacity,” Jesus seems to be saying. “It’s about yours. Can you believe? Can you have enough faith? Can you have more faith than these apostles who have been with me these several years?”

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And then, my favorite verse:

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Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears,

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

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It’s so full of love for his son. It’s so desperate. It’s so….honest! I’ve been there. I want so badly to put my total and complete trust in God to help me with problems, to watch over my kids, to provide for my needs… but I just don’t have enough faith. With the child’s father, I cry out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

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God always has to meet us more than halfway. He doesn’t require that we have 100% faith before He will go to work, but He does want us to want to believe at the very least. Beyond that, I think the official measurement is “as small as a mustard seed.” And if we can muster up that much faith, all things are possible.

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Filed under belief, faith, prayer, trust

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