October 21 (Daily reading: Matthew 17; Mark 9) When Jesus and three disciples returned from His Transfiguration on the mountain, they found the other disciples were experiencing—and failing—a test of their faith. A man had brought his son to Jesus to cast an evil spirit out of him. When Jesus heard that the disciples had failed, he said: “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you?” (Mk. 9:19). Jesus was dealing with unbelief on several levels. The religious crowd was delighted in the disciples’ failure. But in their refusal to believe in Jesus, they ended up rejecting God! The disciples were guilty of unbelief in this situation, even though they had already cast out demons. They had come up against a situation with this possessed, mute boy that surpassed their faith. Jesus later told them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer” (Mk. 9:29). When we confront situations that confound us, the first thing we must do is pray!
What about the unbelief of the father? They brought the boy to Jesus, and the spirit threw him into a convulsion. The father cried out to Jesus: “If You can do anything…help us!” Jesus replied: “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” The father was desperate: “I do believe; help my unbelief.” (Mk. 9:23-24). Jesus healed the boy, casting out the spirit. We can probably all identify with the father’s situation. He had brought his son, hopeful, anxious, only to be disappointed. Face to face with Jesus, he had a choice. He could give in to skepticism, or he could rekindle his faith. We have the same choice when things do not go the way we hope. We can feed on our disillusionment, or we can say: “I do believe—at least I want to—please help me believe—and at the point where I do not believe, help me overcome my unbelief!”
– Al Gary