This story about the boy and the evil spirit was important enough to be in three of the four New Testament accounts by the disciples. Matthew, Mark and Luke all give slightly different takes on this event, but the main thought rang true throughout all three…the disciples couldn’t heal the boy on their own. But instead of admitting defeat, giving up, or walking away, they came to Jesus searching for answers. In Matthew 21:21 Jesus replied to their inquiry by telling them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt…” Doubt is being double-minded or having a divided mind. So when we doubt, we sway back and forth between faith and fear…never achieving full confidence and trust in what God can do. But just like the disciples, if we will go to Jesus admitting our shortcomings, He will speak truth in order to dispel our doubt. And if, like the boy’s father we ask Jesus to, ” Help me overcome my unbelief!” He will show us the way.
I’m quick to say, “I trust in the Lord!” I really have no qualm about putting my faith in Him…it’s just myself I can’t trust. For I believe I know what I can’t do…but am I really trusting in the Lord then? That’s because every time I say to myself, “I can’t do that.” I’m denying and discounting what the Lord can do through me. Now I know I can’t save myself…I can only depend upon God for deliverance. So then I need to take that same trusting dependence and apply it to my “I can’t do that.” statements. For the bottom line is, my dependence can never be on myself, but on God alone.
Earlier in Genesis, God had promised Abraham and Sarah a child. ” I will make you into a great nation.” (Genesis 12:2) But like most of us…they allowed fear and doubt to overshadow their hope and expectations. For in this verse, God led Abraham out into the cloudless night sky to observe the stars, (they estimate there are 1 Billion Trillion stars in our universe), and then reassured him that his offspring would be as numerous. God does this for us also. He can cause a Bible verse to suddenly become alive and take on new meaning…banishing doubt and bolstering our faith in Him. He can strip away fear and strengthen our trust by bringing into remembrance all the things He’s done for us in the past. And just like Abraham, we too can look up into that starry sky and see God’s wonder, power, and majesty…and be assured of His love and faithfulness for us.
The first time you heard the Gospel, what filters did it go through in your head? If your background is in Engineering, maybe you applied scientific and mathematical principles. Or if your background is in Liberal Arts, maybe you dissected, examined and scrutinized the message from a different point of view. But if you were like me, in the end, we had to take the Gospel at face value…believing it was the truth, and deliberately and readily receiving it as such. Being receptive to the Gospel demands a leap of faith…of embracing something with child-like faith that we don’t fully understand…but trusting God will show us the way. In the verse before this, Jesus tells the disciples to, “Let the little children come to Me.” We are His little children, and that’s how He expects us to come to Him…filled with child-like faith, confidence, and hope.