April 20, 2017

I Believe; Help . . .

Mark 9:14-29

Everything is possible for one who believes. . . . The boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

—  Mark 9:23-24

The desperate father’s plea reverberates down the centuries. Every parent understands. You’re desperate to help your child. Prayer isn’t so continual (1 Thessalonians 5:17) as involuntary: “God, please help!”

A son suffers seizures from demon-possession. As a mild epileptic, I know how terrifying seizures can be for my loved ones. No doubt in panic, the helpless father seeks the help of Jesus’ disciples. But they’re unable to help, and an argument with the local religious leaders ensues.

Though this happened before Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, we see the kingdom of God in Christ invading “the kingdom of the world” (Revelation 11:15), conquering evil.

But the boy’s father doesn’t realize this. He’s just reaching out to the Savior: “If you can do anything . . . help us.”

Jesus’ response—“Everything is possible for one who believes”—may sound trite. The father responds with uncommon honesty: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Then “the God thing” happens. Jesus frees the boy of the demon, heals him of his seizures, and restores him to his family. The honest-to-God father with just a mustard seed of faith now has his son back—healthy and whole. This is resurrection life.

Father God, you loved us while we were yet sinners. Give us daily faith to seek you. Help us who struggle with faith to believe every day in the Christ who saves us. Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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