September 17, 2011

Powerlessness has purpose

Even though none of my family members are mute or overcome by evil spirits, I identify with the father in this story from the ministry of Jesus.
(A man in the crowd said), “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.”
    And (Jesus) answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.”
    And they brought the boy to Him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.
    And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?”
    And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
    And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”
    Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
    And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
    And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. (Mark 9:17–27)
I know the desperation of a parent concerned for both the physical and spiritual well-being of my children. I know the frustration of trying to help them and being unable. I also know that the answer is first and always to bring them to Jesus, but even then, I also know faith and unbelief can live together.

There is only one solution to this. As Spurgeon says, when our hearts are breaking we should remember the great Physician’s words, “Bring them unto me.” No Christian parent or grandparent must stop praying until we stop breathing. Nothing is hopeless as long as Jesus is alive. Nothing is too hard for Him.

So I pray, but why then does He wait? Spurgeon says that the Lord sometimes allows His people to be “driven into a corner” that we might discover in our experience how necessary Jesus is to us. We know it by faith in our hearts, but we need to see the reality in our lives.

There is nothing like unsaved and ungodly family members to show us our own powerlessness against the depravity of the human heart. Concerns for unsaved loved ones cause us to flee to our sovereign and powerful God, not only for answers to their need, but for strength and grace ourselves. Because of what it produces, this powerlessness is actually a great blessing. I know enough of my own heart that without the Spirit of God working in me, I would quickly drift from total reliance on the Lord to lackadaisical unconcern for anyone or anything else but my own peace and comfort.

Jesus, I know that You can save the most distant and indifferent heart. You can bring back to Yourself the most rebellious child.  You can also remove my sorrow because You delight to comfort Your people. As You use my powerlessness to teach me, may I know Your peace and grace while learning the lessons I need to learn.

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