And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful. (Matthew 17:14-23)
We can imagine the anguish of this father of the epileptic boy – epilepsy was viewed as an incurable, debilitating disease with harshly negative social and religious overtones. The father would despair because his son would never have a normal life and would never be accepted by pious and good citizens. The father’s anguish was no doubt something like the Prophet Job who wondered, why was I born if life is nothing more than pain and sorrow?
“Why is light given to him that is in misery, and life to the bitter in soul, who long for death, but it comes not, and dig for it more than for hid treasures; who rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when they find the grave? Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, whom God has hedged in? For my sighing comes as my bread, and my groanings are poured out like water. For the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me.” (Job 3:20-24)
The father obviously loves his son, yet is plagued by that gnawing question: Why is anyone born if they are doomed never to know God or joy but only rejection, humiliation and being an outcast?
The father hears about these miracle workers, the disciples, and brings his son to Christ’s disciples to see if they will heal his son, but they can’t. Imagine the crushing resignation of the father as he realizes the despair that no one can help his son.
Part of the miracle is Jesus heals the boy despite the lack of faith of the disciples or the father. Jesus overcomes not the illness but even the lack of faith of the people and His own disciples. God can overcome insurmountable obstacles – even our lack of faith.
In Numbers 11:13-23, we see even the great Moses is dubious about God’s ability to help in every situation. Israel is in the inhospitable desert and the people are crying from hunger for food. Moses seeks God’s intervention but God tells Moses not to worry but to feed the people. Moses replies:
“Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ I am not able to carry all this people alone, the burden is too heavy for me.” … And the LORD said to Moses, “… say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the LORD, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt.” Therefore the LORD will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall not eat one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but a whole month… But Moses said, “The people among whom I am number six hundred thousand on foot; and thou hast said, ‘I will give them meat, that they may eat a whole month!’ Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, to suffice them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them?” And the LORD said to Moses, “Is the LORD’s hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.”
Faith is trusting in God. We can overcome fear, frustration, despair, hopelessness by trusting in God and abiding in Christ. No matter what the problems we face, or the obstacles to solving the problems, we can trust that God is still the Lord of the situation and that what will happen occurs according to His will.
Saints are not those who have no problems but those who seek solutions to their problems in God and who abide in God no matter what problems they are confronted with. We learn in the Scriptures of the many problems which God’s chosen people faced and how they trusted in God that whatever happened would be according to His merciful will.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the LORD delivers him out of them all. (Psalms 34:19)