There is an interesting paradox in the gospels when it came to healing and miracles in general. There are a lot of situations where Jesus attributed the healing to the faith of the individual involved. But there are even more cases where all the burden was on Jesus.
Take the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Clearly the apostles had no relevant faith involved in this project. Jesus did it all.
Same with the son of the widow of Nain. Jesus had compassion. She contributed nothing. He did the miracle just because He wanted to.
And on those days when there was a massive crowd and it says He healed everyone, I doubt “everyone” had rock solid faith.
To me, one of the most exquisite pictures of the blend between our faith and His faith took place at the foot of the Mount of Transfiguration.
When Jesus and The Three wandered down, the nine were in a pickle. All together they had not been able to cast a demon out of a boy. Pretty embarrassing for a bunch of guys who had roamed the countryside doing so many miracles that Jesus said He saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
And now, they were powerless.
As you read the various versions of the story, what stands out to me is that the demon was rooted in unbelief. And, that just happened to be a common problem with the apostles. They were at very low positive numbers in terms of faith. Christ was continually dinging them for inability to extrapolate from the situation yesterday into tomorrow.
If it had been a demon rooted in idolatry, these good Jewish men could have whupped it easily. But unbelief? It was not a good match-up.
So Jesus appeared. The desperate dad appealed to Him to do something if He could.
Jesus was offended at the implied put down and replied that all things were possible to him who believed.
All things. Nice, sweeping, encouraging. That would include casting out a demon that was causing your child to have convulsions and other awful physical problems.
The father choked. He was not about to claim that kind of faith. Instead he hedged. “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” Mark 9:24 KJV
No spiritual giant here. He had some faith, but was quick to distance himself from the requirement of having all of the faith needed to heal his son.
What I love so much about this story is that Jesus agreed to accept the busted faith. He healed the boy.
The widow of Nain story where Jesus does it all is great. If we just catch Jesus when He is in a compassionate mood, He will do all the heavy lifting.
And we also celebrate the stories like Bartimaeus who had enough faith to create a scene in order to get healed. Great stuff.
But the dad with busted faith — that is the real gritty kind of story that I like. I bring something to the table in almost every situation. Some faith. Some holiness. Some fruit of the Spirit. Some sacrifice. Some self-control.
But the idea of my spiritual progress depending on the quality of what I bring to the table is a real wet blanket. I sure don’t like betting on myself, especially when it comes to my spirituality.
But this picture I can work with. I bring to the table everything I have. I proclaim my need for more growth. But the progress in my life does not have to wait until the growth takes place. Jesus takes my busted faith and fills up the cup with the rest of what is needed, and there is life.
So is your faith gimpy? You are in good company. Jesus can work with gimpy faith.
Ask me! I’ve got the tee-shirt, coffee mug, and screen saver.
Oh, and a changed life for sure.
Copyright June 2011 by Arthur Burk