Faith Over Fear
It was nineteen ninety-something and I was in the fourth grade. I was doing the all-important stare at the clock, willing the bell to ring so I could go to recess. Every minute felt like an hour. As I was impatiently waiting, I noticed my teacher passing out the results of our spelling test. Of course, like most weeks I got a D. See, I was never a good speller. Catching a football yes, spelling no. After I saw my grade, I looked up at the clock. No time had passed at all!I also noticed that my teacher was staring at me. She had a strange look on her face, not happy, not upset, just strange. She then told me to stay after the bell. Now at that age, I am sure you remember that if you were asked to stay after the bell that your stomach went into twisty mode. I started to wonder what could I have done, was it the spelling score? Did she know about the rock war my friends and I were going to have? As my mind was racing, the bell rang. As my friends headed out to recess, one friend said “Hey dude - I think that your mom is here.”
Oh man, it was an ambush! My stomach got worse. I thought my teacher and Mom joined forces. Knowing that I am dead now, all I could do was accept my punishment. My mom came into the room with tears in her eyes. Oh man, I really have done it now I thought. She then wrapped her arms around me and as she kissed my face and head, I looked at my teacher and she too is crying. My friends thought it was weird. I was so confused. My mom continued to hug and kiss me and began to say “It's not cancerous, it's not cancerous.”
That was a strange time in my life. I remember telling my mom one night that my leg had been hurting. I spent most of that year in doctor offices, operating tables, and on crutches. I also missed a lot of school, probably why I was getting D’s in spelling. I was totally unaware that during most of that time my parents were told that their son has a tumor in his hip.
Being a parent now, I can look back at my own parents and know that they were living through a nightmare. They were heartbroken, mad, and scared. I remember a lot during that time. I remember my family members just looking at me differently and telling me that everything will be ok. I remember waking up one morning and seeing our mailbox destroyed. It was not until years later that I learned it was my dad who destroyed it. For a man who knew how to fix everything, he was helpless to fix his son. My mom, on the other hand, went into prayer mode. Sure there were times when I would catch her crying on the phone with friends or my grandma, but she was steadfast in her prayers. Years later she told me that despite her belief in Jesus and His ability to heal, she was still scared to death of losing me.
There is a story in the bible where Jesus met with such a parent. In Mark 9 a desperate father walks up to Jesus in search of a miracle for his son.
20 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.
21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “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.”
This was a situation. Here was a father who is desperate for a miracle for his child. Two things stick out to me that I think parents can relate to:
- This father said that the boy has been dealing with this since childhood, or his whole life. These parents have been dealing with, adjusting to, and stressing for a long time. As far back as he can remember it's always been like this. I am sure parents can relate to this father. Being in a situation so long that living a “normal” life just seems impossible, and a miracle seemed so far out of reach.
- The second thing that sticks out to me is that the boy’s condition often threw him into the fire to burn him or the water to drown him. In the first century, so much of life was set around fire and water. Everything that was cooked, or cleaned was done with an open flame in their home. So to be at home, someone always had to have eyes on the kid because you never knew when harm could come to their child. The family was robbed of peace and safety in the home. Living in a fishing village meant living next to the sea. Work or trips to the market also meant danger because all the places were around water. There was no peace or safety outside the home. Every aspect of this family's life had been affected by this problem. The father seeing Jesus asked Him, “If you can, take pity on us.” Jesus answered with “Everything is possible for those who believe.” The father's response is the truest, most relatable, and heartfelt words are written in the Bible. “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Have you been there? This family has been hit with a situation that has been going on forever, affects all aspects of life, and it seems impossible that Jesus could change it. Jesus’s response to the father is that of compassion and grace. At no point did Jesus become upset or send him away because of a lack of faith. Jesus just wanted Eyes on Him. The problem is big, the problem is overwhelming, but take your eyes off of it and on to Me. We know how the story ends the boy is healed, and the family is free to live life.
Despite my mom going into prayer mode after my diagnosis, she was still terrified of losing me. Did she lack faith? No, she embraced the fear but focused on Jesus anyway. I know a lot of parents are going through or may go through a situation that affects their kids. It's hard not to feel like the world stops when it comes to our kids. Fear can be normal and unbelief can be present. Jesus knows us and knows that those feelings are there, but despite how we feel, Jesus has grace and compassion for us. Jesus will still carry us in the midst of our unbelief when we keep our eyes on Him. So next time you're in that moment of unbelief or doubt, remember that dad with a sick kid, who told Jesus that he didn’t believe. And remember how Jesus loved that family despite the unbelief. Jesus loves you and your family so much that He will do amazing things with our eyes on Him, in spite of our unbelief.
By Pastor Michael Jones