Thursday, May 6, 2010

Disillusioned and Disappointed? Take It to Jesus!

Dear friends,

For the past several months, I've been reading (and meditating) my way slowly through four gospels, simultaneously studying each event in the life of Christ from the different perspectives each writer brings.  This morning I landed on the story of Jesus healing a demon-possessed boy in Matthew 17:14-20, Mark 9:14-29, and Luke 9:37-43.  I would like to share my notes with you and then end with a poem called "Psalm to Sweet Jesus" that I wrote many years ago.

Here is Matthew's account of what happened when Jesus came off the mountain after his transfiguration:

And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

One of the things which struck me is that Jesus' disciples had utterly failed this man, and he was disappointed.  Yet even his disillusionment with Christians did not deter him from seeking out the Master himself.   He needed help for his boy, and he went to the Source.  This is relevant to me because I am often discouraged by what I see in Christians around me, specifically a lack of awareness of the power of God to change lives through grace.  They suck the vibrant faith right out of other people by their insistence on following man-made rules and trying to defeat the powers of evil by human effort and systems.  But I am equally discouraged seeing those on the other end of the spectrum who have been so burned by legalism that they totally give up trying to follow Jesus at all, and end up trading the true liberty (to do what is right and good and honoring to God) for license to do whatever they want.  When they see hypocrisy, they react by not only bolting from the church, but abandoning Jesus and common decency, too.  Instead, we can confidently go to him and say, "I think you have been poorly represented and I am hurting.  Please teach me what you really want me to know in this situation, and heal my heart."

We need the holy boldness that faith in Jesus brings.  He is capable of handling our darkest problems.  I can't imagine anything worse than seeing my child controlled by a demon.  It's bad enough dealing with garden-variety bad moods.  Yet no matter how big or small the problem, I can bring it to Jesus and beg for his help.  Other Christians can help, yes, but there is nothing like going straight to the Master.

Reading in Mark's version, I find the following conversation:

The boy's father: "But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 
Jesus: “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.”
The boy's father: "I believe; help my unbelief!”

So the man didn't even need to have perfect faith.  He realized that he was struggling with doubt, and he lays that out for Jesus, asking for help with that in addition to help for his son.   When we are facing problems as wives and moms, we can go to Jesus and be honest about our doubts.  He will take us where we are, and fill us with faith as we open our hearts to him.  Just a mustard seed of faith is all it takes to move a mountain!

And finally, Luke concludes his story with: "And all were astonished at the majesty of God."

I still haven't fully processed that statement.  Take a few moments and meditate on it for yourself.  Don't be complacent with spiritual stagnancy, doubt, and disillusionment.   Take your troubles to Jesus, and be astonished at his majesty!

After I wrote all this, I remembered a poem I wrote about a decade ago that fits here:

Psalm to Sweet Jesus
by Virginia Knowles

Sweet Jesus, you bring to me all that is good:
Comfort and hope when I am discouraged,
Peace and reconciliation when I am in conflict,
Strength and enthusiasm when I am weary,
Wisdom and guidance when I am confused,
Courage and confidence when I am afraid,
Forgiveness and mercy when I have done wrong.

You bore the fatal punishment that I deserved,
Yet rose up again in power,
Promising that if I would turn from my awful sin,
And believe in your awesome grace,
I could become your own precious child,
And enter into your everlasting Gloryland.

Such a rich salvation that I could never earn!
As a simple gift of gratitude,
With help from your Word and your Spirit,
I will trust and obey your loving commands,
I will worship you with my prayers and songs,
I will serve others joyfully,
I will share your Good News,
So that each one who hears and believes
May receive the matchless treasure
Found only in you.

Virginia Knowles

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