Being a parent comes with its share of joy and frustration; fulfillment and despair. The desire of a parent to do whatever it takes to protect and care for their child is a primal one. But there can come a time when a parent realizes his helplessness in the face of overwhelming challenges for his child, such as the father who brought his son to Jesus in Mark 9.
He first asked Jesus’ disciples to drive out the evil spirit that had robbed his son of speech, caused him to have violent convulsions and thrown him into fire and water, but they could not. When Jesus came upon the crowd, the father recognized Him as the rabbi rumored to be the Messiah and immediately sought His help. Jesus dealt with the failure of the disciples later, but His first priority was the demon-possessed boy.
I have these five words spoken by Jesus in Mark 9:19, underlined in my Bible. “Bring the boy to me.” These words became my motto when faced with the dark struggles of my teen-aged son, who seemed beyond my reach in his pain and depression. Over and over again I brought my son to Jesus in prayer, knowing He was the only source of help I could depend on.
When the father brought his son to Jesus, the evil spirit fought to destroy the boy. This speaks to me of the fierce battle we need to fight on our knees for our children. In their immaturity they are not equipped to fight their own spiritual battles, so it is an essential task as their parents that we battle for them in prayer. It does not mean we need to be spiritual giants. The father who brought his son to Jesus openly admitted to having doubts whether the evil spirit could be cast out.
“But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us,” he begged of Jesus. Imagine using the word “if” where Jesus is concerned! Surely the father had heard of or perhaps seen the miracles Jesus had performed, and knew He was purported to be the Messiah. Yet he had struggled for so long, battling against a vicious demon for his son’s very life, that he found it almost impossible to raise any hope for relief, even in the presence of Jesus.
Have you been there? Has your heart been broken repeatedly over the struggles and sufferings of your child? Do you find yourself growing weary of the battle, desperate to find enough faith yet reluctant to hope lest failure happens again? Then listen to the words of Jesus to the distraught father. “If you can? Everything is possible to him who believes.”
And take heart from the father’s transparent admission. “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Jesus responded to the wavering faith of this loving father, ordered the evil spirit to be gone, raised up the boy and restored him to his family.
It has been said that parenting isn’t for sissies. It is often hard work with little reward, which can cause our faith to falter. As you bring your child to Jesus, He will shore up your trembling unbelief with His own Spirit and equip you to fight on.