A man approached Jesus’ disciples. The man was distraught, scared. His son, who was possessed by a demonic spirit, was tormented. The father was desperate for his son’s deliverance. He explained to Jesus:
One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.” (Mark 9:17-18, NLT)
Imagine how disappointed the man had become once he realized that the demon wasn’t going to obey the commands of the disciples. I speculate that the disciples were, in his mind, the very last hope of his son ever living a normal life.
He had likely, up until that point, visited numerous physicians, spiritualists, and so-called experts. However, his son remained bound by chains of darkness. He had been disappointed time and time again. With every failed attempt to make his son well, his faith diminished just a bit more.
He must have heard the stories about how the disciples were able to work miracles and cast out demons. Yet what little hope he could have mustered was suffocated under the weight of yet another disappointment. The disciples, the man learned, were not able to free his beloved son.
But that’s when Jesus approached him. When you read the narrative in the gospel of Mark, you’ll notice that the man did not approach Jesus - Jesus approached him.
Possibly still glowing with Heavenly glory from his transfiguration, Jesus asked about the boy’s suffering:
“How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was a little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” (Mark 9:21-23, NLT)
I love the Master’s straight-forward approach. With an almost indignant tone, Jesus asked, “What do you mean if I can?” I believe the emphasis was on the “if”. Jesus certainly knew His own identity. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
All things are possible; Only believe.
The man had tried all that he knew to try. He had gone to every expert. He had tried every remedy. He had looked at every potential solution. But, when it came down to it, all he needed to do was believe. And I love his honest response.
The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24, NLT)
After the man’s candid prayer, the Lord delivered his son completely. The boy was freed from the demonic spirit that tormented him.
What do you do when you’ve done all there is to do? What can be attempted when all of your ideas have already failed? What do you do when you need a miracle?
It’s that place of frustration and waiting. Though beneficial to your character, it can be painful. Truly, a miracle is only needed when all other ways have proved to be ineffective. When you’ve come to the end of yourself - talent, intellect, resources, emotion, energy - that’s when the miracle can happen.
Like that father, perhaps you too face a situation that cannot be overcome with human effort alone. Don’t worry; this is when Jesus steps in. You may have doubt, but He can help your doubt. You may be weary of having your hopes crushed. He won’t disappoint you. You can trust Him.
Leave it to Him. When you’ve done what you can, rest and trust. Relax. Only believe. He’ll take it from here.