At the foot of the mountain, a large crowd was waiting for them. A man came and knelt before Jesus and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son. He has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. So I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.”
Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Then Jesus rebuked the demon in the boy, and it left him. From that moment the boy was well.
Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?”
“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”
Matthew 17:14-20 NLT
My Thoughts: Today we see Jesus exhibit a bit of frustration with his disciples because their lack of faith kept them from healing this boy. Have we ever been guilty of doing the same thing? (Ummmm, I have….)
My year has been filled with a collection of hard things. I’ve had a feeling of constantly walking uphill. As the year progresses the hill seems to get steeper because I barely get through one thing and here comes another. Singularly most of these issues aren’t awful, but all together it feels like my shoulder is pushing against a wall. I have a feeling the father of this young boy felt the same when the disciples were unable to help heal his son.
Usually, when hard stuff comes, I lean into Jesus and read the Bible looking for answers and direction. Then I journal what I learn and what the Lord says to me. I’m still reading the Bible, although not consistently, and recently, I stopped journaling. This is not good for me because staying on track in the word and writing helps me track my journey and understand what the Lord is saying with more clarity.
I’ve allowed fatigue, confusion, and frustration about some issues cause me to behave like those disciples; as if they can’t be resolved by faith. Let me explain.
First: a beloved family member* is facing health issues that have left us both tired, frustrated, and perplexed as we seek answers for a somewhat frightening diagnosis. We started this journey in July and although we have a lot of information there are still missing pieces from the puzzle so we ‘hurry up and wait’ for the next doctor visit hoping they may have answers. Every stay at the hospital or visit to a different doctor has been somewhat enlightening but, in the end, they just tell us to go to another specialist. It feels like we are digging a trench with a spoon in order to get through the information and we still don’t have answers! It has been stressful.
Another issue that has frustrated and challenged me is a new twist to an old health issue that also came on in July. I suffer from osteoarthritis, but I manage it well with a team of doctors and responsible decisions (not always, but I try!). I was told early on that “motion is lotion” therefore I walk consistently. This year I intentionally focused on eating more sensibly and reducing portions to manage my weight which also helps lessen pain and pressure on my joints. Osteoarthritis is not life threatening, but it is life altering and can be painful. What has distressed me the most about the disease is that it progresses despite my positive efforts! Now I must balance management of this new treatment for pain with my other treatments for pain. Ugh!
Both situations have one thing in common: they are stressing me out!
Healthline has a lot to say about the effects of stress on the body, but what hit me square in the face was that some symptoms of chronic stress include irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches, and insomnia. Good grief, I’ve had every one of these symptoms lately, therefore, I can clearly see that stress is making my problem(s) worse!
In addition, I find myself having conflicted reactions/responses to my problems. One day I fall back into old habits of pushing away from the Lord, the next day I’m reading a dozen different devotions or playing Bible roulette! I know what the answer is so what is wrong with me?
The apostle Paul also struggled with conflicting reactions:
“I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” Romans 7:15, 19 NLT
There is a battle waging inside of me and my responses look exactly like these confusing verses from Paul! However, before we get discouraged let’s look at what happens next in our story: the disciples talk to Jesus.
Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” Matthew 17:19 NLT
Talking to Jesus is a critical part of getting through our hard things! While I have been asking questions and many also begin with “why,” my questions give the impression that I believe my life should be less stressful, or perhaps I don’t deserve these problems.
I’m embarrassed because I would never verbalize my questions that way, but that’s what they imply when I really look at them! Jesus never told us our lives would be perfect or easy! In fact, Jesus said:
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NLT
The most important question I should be asking myself is “Cecilia, why in the world are you focusing more on the problem(s) than the solution(s)?” Maybe because I am afraid the solution isn’t exactly what I wanted, but what if I remember the journey could bring a better answer in the long run? What if I make the same important decision the disciples made? What if I just ask Jesus and get back to focusing on my faith?
Jesus was very candid with the disciples by telling them plainly that the real problem was a lack of faith. Then he immediately followed that truth with hope:
“I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” Matthew 17:20 NLT
Jesus gave his life for me so that I can be free from the bondage of my sins, including the sin of wrongful or destructive thinking (stress). The battles I face do not have to be faced alone because the Lord says he will fight for me.
“The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Exodus 14:14 NLT
In addition, I surrendered my heart and life to Jesus! I did not surrender to:
1. Pride, because I don’t want to admit to a new health issue
2. Guilt and lies about my sins, because I am forgiven
3. Worry or stress, because neither ever solve a problem
4. Hopelessness, because Jesus is my hope!
“And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.” Psalms 39:7 NLT
Closing Prayer: Father God, thank you for reminding me that my faith is in you which gives me the resolve to get back into your Word. Thank you for showing me when I said “yes” to you I can overcome any lie and put that truth in writing! Thank you for the reminder that I can do everything through You because You are my strength. I especially thank You for the reminder that some hard things, the ones that are breaking my heart, could be the very thing that leads to You. I surrender my heart, my worries, my stress, and my will for Your perfect will, Lord.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world [Cecilia], but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV
(*Side note: if you have seniors in your family who are experiencing changes in their health which require medical care, I hope they have an advocate! I truly believe we would not have gotten as far as we have with these physicians without my persistence because my family member is 87 years old. This is not me tooting my own horn, this is me telling you our seniors are often ignored in the healthcare system because of their age!)