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WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2021 - WHEN THINGS ARE IMPOSSIBLY POSSIBLE!

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2021

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are Mark 9:20-24, where the Bible recounts this encounter:   

20 They brought the boy to Jesus. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. 21 And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”

WHEN THINGS ARE IMPOSSIBLY POSSIBLE!


Our lesson for today comes in the context of another healing event in the ministry of Jesus. It not only demonstrates Christ’s power over all things, but also faith’s power IN HIM amidst all the doubts and struggles that we may be facing. There so much to learn from the honest confession of the father in our lesson. The dad knew what his son needed and felt helpless in response. He also knew what he needed, stronger faith. When he meets Jesus, he expresses sentiments like this: “I’d like to have great faith, but I know that I’m inadequate now when I need it most. In fact, I’m overcome by circumstances and doubt. Lord Jesus, while I believe, help my unbelief.”

Today many people don’t seem to struggle with their doubts; they tend to revel in them. Some even claim that there is “faith in honest doubt,”[1] as if our skepticism is the key to an authentic, honest pursuit of truth. In his book, Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton rightly identifies our modern “skeptical” faith this way:

The man of the nineteenth century did not disbelieve in the Resurrection because his liberal Christianity allowed him to doubt it. He disbelieved in it because his very strict materialism did not allow him to believe it. Tennyson, a very typical nineteenth-century man, uttered one of the instinctive truisms of his contemporaries when he said that there was faith in their honest doubt. There was indeed. Those words have a profound and even a horrible truth. In their doubt of miracles there was a faith in a fixed and godless fate; a deep and sincere faith in the incurable routine of the cosmos.[2]

That’s not the struggling faith of the father of our text. True faith is that which trusts God, even while struggling through our doubts, rather than a faith that revels in skepticism. Believers don’t dismiss their struggles or diminish their problems and fears. Instead, believers wrestle with them as they tenaciously trust that God hasn’t and won’t forsake them. The father’s encounter with Jesus occurs amidst skeptical people’s rejection of Jesus and their ridicule of His ineffective followers. The father is tempted in this direction as well, as he prefaces his request to Jesus with the words, “If you can.” But he comes to Jesus with an honest assessment of Jesus’ strength and power, looking to Him for relief that even his faith cannot give. “I do believe; help my unbelief.” I pray that your faith in Jesus is like his.

Amazingly Jesus doesn’t tell the father to come back when he has more faith. In the midst of the father’s struggle, Jesus heals his son (see Mark 9:25-27). As always, our faith is not the key to our power and strength. Even one’s authentic skepticism grants no special power to faith. The key to true and vibrant faith is its object. And when faith rests itself IN JESUS ALONE, that which was impossible becomes possible (Mark 9:23). Sins are forgiven. Death is overcome. Illness and struggle are temporary. Reconciliation with God and with others is possible all because of Jesus’ work on our behalf.

Today, amidst struggles and even successes, revel in the great news that God knows your weaknesses and your faith-failures. Even amidst “weak” faith, God is strong. And know that even with “strong” faith in Him, such faith doesn’t enhance our blessed relationship with Him. But it can give us the strength needed to serve others IN HIS NAME amidst their struggles, their failures, and their flailing faith too. Oh, and if you are like the father today, one who realizes that you need “more faith,” the Bible has an antidote for that as well. In Romans 10:17, St. Paul teaches us that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” When the fires of your faith are reduced to embers because of doubt, suffering, or circumstance, stoke the fire with His promises, His Word, and the record of His actions of grace and mercy for you. Such faith knows that things are impossibly possible with God, and that, no matter the circumstance, we can always put our trust in Him.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, our doubts often seem to put up limits to what You can do in our lives. May we be bold to trust You amidst our doubts and the difficult circumstances of the moment. We believe; help our unbelief!  AMEN.

 

[1] Tennison, “Faith in Honest Doubt,” http://static1.squarespace.com/static/55914e2ee4b0478467cdb875/t/56e2a06fb654f9980164d620/1457692783775/31+Friday+after+Mothering+Sunday.pdf

[2] https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Orthodoxy/Chapter_8

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