If You Can? - The Warrior's Journey®

Virginia Guard chaplain support teams support military personnel in Louisianna. Photo by Coast Guard is licensed under CC By 2.0

“It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” (Mark 9:22–23, NIV)

Families have always had struggles, even during the time when Jesus walked this earth. It had been an exasperating day. A father had taken his son to see Jesus in the hopes that Jesus would cast the evil spirit out of his boy.

Since childhood, the spirit had robbed the boy of his speech and at times taken control of the young man’s body and thrown him to the ground. The boy would convulse, foam at the mouth, and gnash his teeth. On several occasions the spirit attempted to drown him in water or shove him into the fire.

If you are a parent, can you imagine the long-term suffering and pain that the boy’s parents must have experienced? It’s tough enough to see any child suffer. When it’s your own flesh and blood, the feelings are magnified.

Filled with hope and expectancy at the prospect of getting his son healed, the father soon learned that Jesus was out of town with Peter, James, and John, three of His disciples. No matter, the father would make his appeal to a few of Jesus’ disciples who were in town. As hard as they tried, the disciples were powerless to cast out the evil spirit. Although they had done numerous miracles in the months prior, today it was just not happening.

Picture the scene. Confusion, shouting, blaming, and finger-pointing. Teachers of the Law weren’t making the situation any easier as they argued with some of the disciples, most likely chastising them for trying to exert spiritual authority they did not have. To make matters worse, a large crowd was beginning to gather. Just as the situation was about to spin out of control, Jesus returns from being out of town. When the people saw Jesus, they ran over to greet Him.

Jesus quickly asked the obvious question: “What are you arguing with them about?”

The boy’s father spoke up first. He wasn’t about to miss this opportunity. He explained the whole situation surrounding his son and how the disciples had been unable to help. A hush settled over the crowd. Every eye focused on Jesus to see what He would do. Jesus wasted no time in responding. He looked at His disciples first, then to the teachers of the Law and others in the crowd.

His first words came as a rebuke: “’You unbelieving generation,’ Jesus replied, ‘how long shall I stay with you?'”

Before they could respond, Jesus followed His question with an order: “Bring the boy to me.”

They brought the young man and placed him in front of Jesus. Immediately the evil spirit threw the boy into a convulsion. The boy rolled back and forth along the ground, foaming at the mouth and gnashing his teeth. It was a scary sight. Jesus did not flinch or give any indication that He had been caught off guard.

He turns to the father and asks, “How long has he been like this?”

The father quickly tells Jesus that the evil spirit had been torturing his boy since childhood.

He finished his response by pleading with Jesus, “…if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

Jesus looks the father in the eye and asks a rhetorical question using the father’s own words: “If you can?”

Then He says, “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Overcome with emotion, the father breaks down: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

The dad knows Jesus had performed many miracles, but somehow this situation is different. The disciples have already failed in helping the boy. And now his son is convulsing and rolling along the ground. Things are not good. The father’s faith was weak and he knew it. He cries out to Jesus. Jesus now decides the time is right for Him to act.

He rebukes the evil spirit, “’You deaf and mute spirit,’ he said, ‘I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.’”

Immediately the evil spirit shrieked, convulsed the boy violently, and then left. The boy ceased all movement and lay perfectly still. He gave the appearance of being dead. Many in the crowd thought he was. Jesus reached down and took the boy by the hand and lifted him up to his feet. The boy stood. The evil spirit was gone. Jesus had performed a great miracle. For the first time ever, the boy now had the chance to live a normal life.

I believe the most important teaching point came through Jesus’ words to the father in this story: “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

It’s no secret. Families today are struggling. Military families are no exception. Divorce, drugs, finances, suicide, physical abuse, and teenage pregnancy are just a few of the many problems that families are experiencing. These issues don’t occur in just one segment of our population. They touch young and old, rich and poor, educated and uneducated. It’s heartbreaking, especially because we don’t seem to making a lot of progress with answers. But there is an answer.

There is hope. His name is Jesus. Just as He healed the boy in the story, Jesus is still touching marriages and families around the world. And He is working powerfully among our military. I see the evidence in my own family.

Recently, Judy and I were traveling to our youngest son’s graduation from West Point. Traveling with us were our daughter, Mary, our daughter-in-law, Jen, and her two children, RJ and Jillian. Jillian was 19 months old and was born with some physical problems. While we waited in the Atlanta airport to catch our flight to New York, Jillian suffered two seizures in close succession. She had experienced a couple of them previously, so we at least knew what was happening. Picture the scene. We’re at the airport gate, only minutes from boarding. Jen administered some medication that she routinely carries. We waited to see the impact. Most importantly, we prayed.

I won’t go into all the details, but I will tell that God was there. He stopped the seizures and provided all of the help we needed to get her to the hospital. He helped us to find accommodations for the night and catch a flight to West Point the following afternoon. Within days, Jillian showed no signs of ever having had any problems.

Do you believe that Jesus can help you and your family? On the authority of God’s Word, I assure you that He can. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!” (Hebrews 13:8).

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