Sickness, mood swings, relationship problems, and unexpected situations affect our desire and determination.
We have already established from the previous chapters that faith is the speech-act of the believer in his relationship to God. Without faith, it is impossible to enjoy and please God (Heb. 11:6). Without faith, it is hard to see the glory of God (Jn. 11:40). However, in Christian experience, we know that there are times wherein our determination to trust in God is not strong and lively enough. Sickness, mood swings, relationship problems, and unexpected situations affect our desire and determination. Besides, as human beings, we have this natural tendency to interpret situations according to sight-perspective, rather than objective facts. Like Thomas, our faith is based on what we see, not on the conviction of the heart (Jn. 20:25). When the storms of life come, we more on see the dark clouds over us and forget the constancy of the sun above those clouds. That’s just the way we are.
However, in Christian experience, we know that there are times wherein our determination to trust in God is not strong and lively enough. Sickness, mood swings, relationship problems, and unexpected situations affect our desire and determination.
However, this does not mean that faith ignores the practical reality surrounding us. Biblical faith is a practical faith. But it doesn’t end in the practical world – the physical and material facts. Biblical faith is also a supernatural faith. In fact, it finds its essence in the supernatural world. When it sees that the practical world hides the hand of God in the material situation, it soars beyond that world and flies into the supernatural realm of God. That’s the kind of faith that Jesus wants us to learn and apply. Thus, the question intrigues us: How does God build in us that kind of trust in Him?
There was a time when the disciples of Jesus faced public embarrassment because of their failure to exercise their faith. It is told in Mt. 17:14-20 that they failed to heal a boy who had epilepsy caused by an evil spirit. Ashamed of their powerlessness to give healing and give comfort to the father of the boy, they waited for their master to restore their reputation. When Jesus came, he immediately cast out the evil spirit from the boy. Then He encouraged the disciples that if they want to experience the same power, they need to have faith – even if that faith is like a grain of mustard seed.
Jesus gave them the power to heal the sick, to cast out demons, and to preach the gospel of the kingdom with courage.
Interestingly, before this embarrassment happened, the disciples had a wonderful experience of the power of Christ in Matthew 10. Jesus gave them the power to heal the sick, to cast out demons, and to preach the gospel of the kingdom with courage. This experience increased their faith and gave them popularity as the chosen Twelve Disciples. But then in this scenario, we can feel the frustration and embarrassment of the disciples, wondering why they can’t exercise the supernatural ability that their Master gave them before. But before we look down on the disciples, we must understand the situation that they were in based on the given scenario.
First of all, the inner disciples of Jesus – Peter, James, and John – were not with them (Mt. 17:1-13). Jesus took them with him on the mountain of transfiguration. Secondly, the father of the epileptic boy who came to the disciples was actually doubtful that Jesus can heal his son (Mk. 9:14-29). Thirdly, majority of the people in the crowd were skeptics and critics of Jesus. They were just there for the sake of curiosity. This is implied in what Jesus said concerning them in verse 17. And fourth, there was a strong evil spirit among them residing in the boy’s body. Thus, we can see that the disciples were surrounded by people of unbelief. The environment that they were in was cynical and hostile to Jesus.
Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that their failure to heal the epileptic boy was not because of their disbelief. Jesus acknowledged that they have faith – although little faith. But still, that kind of faith can move mountains (Mt. 17:19-20). God can still use their little faith to display His glory. The problem then is not the little faith of the disciples but in the faithlessness of the people. This is implied in the statement of Jesus in verse 17.
Experience the Power of Prophecy as a gift to open your mind to receive the Mind of Christ.