A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
“O unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. “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 him who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” (Mark 9:17-25)
This story takes place right after the transfiguration. Jesus had taken Peter, James, and John up on a high mountain and His divine glory had been revealed to them. Jesus, Peter, James, and John were returning from that experience and came upon this crowd. The other disciples and the teachers of the law were arguing presumably over the disciples’ lack of ability to heal this demon possessed child. Jesus had already given the disciples authority to drive out demons. We are told earlier in Mark:
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve–designating them apostles –that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. (Mark 3:13-15)
With compassion, Jesus tells them to bring the boy to Him. He asks the father how long the child has been like this. The father responds since childhood. Can you imagine the desperation this father must have felt? He says to Jesus, “But if you can do anything …”
Jesus responds “If you can?” Jesus follows that up with “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Jesus has the power to deliver this child!
Contrast this scenario with the man with leprosy in Matthew who came to Jesus knowing He could heal him.
A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” (Matthew 8:1-3)
The word “willing” stands out in the above passage. Sometimes God does not change the circumstance, heal the physical body, or provide a “yes” to our request. When this is the case, there is always a greater good to be accomplished through what He is allowing–both for us and for others. Two passages provide encouragement during those times when God does say “no.”
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)
Our loving and compassionate Father is a good and perfect giver and delights to bestow “good gifts” to His children. Always believe that even if the answer is “No,” there is so much more at stake that we do not see.
Take It to Heart
God is always faithful, loving, compassionate and kind to His children–even when we do not recognize it as such. His very heart is love. If the answer to changing my circumstance is “No,” there is a greater good that I cannot readily see both for me and for others.