Matthew 17:14-20 Developing Faith In An Exhausting World

When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Developing Faith In An Exhausting World

Jesus, my faith is small, but it is connected to my understanding.  I rarely have certainty about a course of action but I do have faith to stay the course.  As I went through the hostile environment of my undergraduate school, I felt like I was carried by a faith that transcended reason.  Reason has coloured in a lot of the missing picture over the subsequent years, but there is still room for transcendence and mystery.  Where my faith suffers is knowing whether to move my family to Chicago, Grayslake, or Africa.  Where I am confused is about whether to take a financial risk and go to England over the summer.  Am I meant to stay in America and attend an ACSI conference and talk at Christian camps?  This is a difficult question to answer.  I don’t have an angel of God dictating to me what should be done.

When it comes to illnesses and healing, I don’t know when you want to work through the illness, when the illness is going to be allowed to take a life, or whether you really want to heal a person through the power of the Spirit.  So I muddle along trying to discern the will of God and I only know that I should hold the faith and persevere.  However, because of my lack of clarity about the spectacular I don’t speak to mountains and have them throw themselves into the sea.

Maybe it is because my prayer life is weak and that I really don’t discipline myself to fast.  Maybe if I was more immersed in prayer I would be more able to discern when the miraculous should happen.  It is not as if it is a slot machine where prayer and fasting is put in and miracles are paid out.  It is the sign of a deeper relationship.  I wonder that we are satisfied with so little, but we are too busy and too tired.  As I was talking with my wife, I saw how much energy we expend trying to control and worry.  In effect, how much energy we spend maintaining the opposite of faith.  We are so intent on spending our resources creating the anti-faith that we crave sleep and space rather than relationship.  Then sleep and space are denied us as we complete tasks we were not assigned and as we worry about a future that may never be.  Help us to cultivate a relationship where we pursue the tasks you assign and we have the resources which you give.  Help us to sleep restfully as you did in the boat when the storm raged.

Questions

  1. Why was delivering the boy in the passage important?
  2. Why couldn’t the disciples deliver the boy?
  3. What kind of faith did the disciples have?
  4. Why do you lack the resources sometimes to healthily live your life for God and for others?
  5. How can you develop the capacity to serve God and others more effectively?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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4 Responses to Matthew 17:14-20 Developing Faith In An Exhausting World

  1. hannawarren says:

    Thank you for your vulnerability. I was thinking about faith last night. It is not governed by emotions or the empirical, but it is a mystery and transcends reason. I am out of touch with faith. Maybe, that is because I can not tangibly hold it. Yet, I long for the very real force of something to ground me. I am finding it hard to think about anything anymore, let alone the impossible being possible.

    to answer question 4, I think I lack the resources to healthily live for God and others because I draw from myself rather than God. Not only do I draw from myself, but I draw from what I lack, rather than what I have. Independence highlights our weaknesses; unity strengthens them.

    • Plymothian says:

      I agree Hannah, we do tend to draw from ourselves and we draw from a dry well. I have relied on my own reason for a long time – made a god of it. It’s not that I do not think, but I try now not to turn to thinking. The reason my blog is addressed to Jesus at the moment is to try and move myself away from the abstract and toward a real relationship. I hope that you find clearly what you must let go of and what you must hold on to.

      May God keep you until you return safely to us here in the USA.

      • hannawarren says:

        I meant to say how I really have enjoyed your blog more, now, that it is addressed to Jesus. For once, it allows you to recognize someone else as teacher.

  2. hannawarren says:

    stay near Chicago, please.

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