Our gospel is Mark 9:14-29, taken today from the New International Version (NIV).
When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked. A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”
Jesus tells us in this passage that “everything is possible for one who believes” (v. 23). He reminds us that our faith is important to God and essential to our relationship with Him. If we don’t believe, how can we be saved?
This doesn’t mean God needs our help for anything, merely that He made us to be in connection with Him and nothing else can fill our needs. We can try our best, as the disciples did in this story, but it seems they were expecting to be successful on their own. Jesus later instructs them “this kind can come out only by prayer” (v. 29), an indication that we must be counting on God to work through us.
Why would we want to do it on our own? Something stubborn exists within us, our free will telling us we are in charge. God made us this way for a reason, so that we could choose to be part of His work. He calls us but we must each say “I believe, help me overcome my unbelief”.
Gracious God, we are thankful to be made in Your image and invited to participate in Your creation. Help us to always be faithful, to turn to You in prayer and to share our faith with all Your children. Amen.