“‘If you can help!? All things are possible for one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!'”
I may be wrong for saying this, but my heart goes out to this father. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m a father of children about the same age as the demon possessed son from this account, but I feel for the guy. A little background. While Jesus was hanging out on a mountain with Peter, James, and John . . . oh yeah, and Moses and Elijah . . . a heart wrenching scene was unfolding at the foothills. A man from the local town saw an opportunity to rid his dear son and his family of a problem that had persistently plagued them. At the same time Jesus revealed Himself as the Light of the World, deep darkness set in for a heartbroken father. Seeking Jesus, he found only nine of Jesus’ followers. “Perhaps they can help me,” the agitated father thought to himself.
“Sure, we can help you! Bring your son here!” To the crowd, you can almost hear these cocky and self-confident men shout, “Step right up and witness the healing of this young boy.” As if performing some kind of New Testament magic show, perhaps the disciples waved their hands and shouted loudly at the demon, who if it weren’t for his vow of silence, would have laughed out loud at the nerve of them. The nine failed. They could not drive out the demon. Instead, they began making excuses. Into the fray came the town scribes who threw in their two shekels worth of what they thought was going on.
This is the darkness into which Jesus walked upon returning from His mountaintop experience.
Petty arguments from petty people as a child lay writhing on the ground, convulsing under the power of a depraved demon, a hopeless father helplessly looking on. Skipping the nonsense, Jesus found the problem and solved it. Kicking the cruel beast to the curb, Jesus condemned him back to hell while watching his host fall to the ground. Ignoring the silence that now fell through the comingled crowd of disciples and scribes and confused townsfolk, Jesus reached out His freshly transfigured hands to lift the boy up. Up from his suffering. Up from the demon’s dangerous grasp. Up from the grave’s grip. Up from the ground and into his father’s anxiously awaiting arms.
My heart goes out to this father. He had lost all hope. Darkness engulfed him. Yet Jesus gave him something he had long ago convinced himself he couldn’t dream to have again: his son. The bittersweet, guilty feeling of having his son returned to him whole, while all this time he had been questioning God’s goodness. God’s presence.
Have you ever watched helplessly, even hopelessly, as your world fell apart? As darkness fell.
I have . . . several times. There is only one way to make it through the darkness that accompanies such distress. You can try lighting your own fire. You can burn all the torches you can possibly round up. You can put on a happy face and muddle through. You will only find the darkness all the more closing in around you (cf. Isaiah 50:11). The only way through this kind of darkness is for the one who casts out demons to take you by the hand and walk you through. There is no other way.
When you think there is, repeat after a heartbroken father, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
“Away from us!” the demon cried
When Christ, the Lord, drew near.
“Our dark, disordered world is lost
When You, the Light, appear!”
“Away from Us!” the Demon Cried (LSB, 541)