When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Over the past several years I have prayed for countless people who were sick. Many of them have been healed. But many have not been healed. I used to wonder why, trying to use the scientific method to determine patterns and formulate theories, but ultimately I discovered it all comes down to faith: something that seems to be so very complex, yet, when properly understood is extremely simple. Consider this story.
There is a man whose son is unwell, and although he shows symptoms of epilepsy, we know from what follows that he is actually afflicted by a demon. The father takes his son to the disciples, perhaps because Jesus couldn’t be found. Besides they, too, have been working miracles. But they could do nothing. Why? They didn’t fail because they didn’t know what to do. A little earlier, we find Jesus sending them to go “cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons” (Matthew 10:8).
When they returned, they reported that they had done these things so dealing with demons was not something they were unfamiliar with. So again, why? Because they didn’t have faith? Oh, no, they had faith. The problem was that they didn’t have enough of it. When the demon put up resistance, they first became dismayed, then discouraged. Then doubt set in. A hostile audience began taunting them and instead of continuing to pray and cast the demon out, they entered into an unproductive debate.
Doubt is the devil’s greatest weapon. We can do great things when we have faith, but the moment we doubt we become powerless. The apostles had prior experience of this. When they were caught in a storm and were afraid, Jesus rebuked them saying, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26). Then, again, when Peter sank in the water that moments ago he had been walking on, Jesus asked him: “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).
Why do WE doubt? For the same reasons the apostles did. When things are going well, our faith is strong and we have no difficulty in praising God. The moment we face a storm in our lives, or a challenge that tests us, we get overwhelmed with fear and doubt. Not only do we forget how good and great our God is, we also forget that he is with us. If we can remember that in times when the going gets tough, we will be able to say to the mountain, “Move from here to there!”, and the mountain will move.
May you move mountains in your lives.
May the Spirit be with you.