We can often find ourselves in seemingly hopeless situations.
Whether they are related to the recent storms and hurricane Ida,
or maybe it was a recent cancer diagnosis,
or perhaps you are dealing with family members
such as parents and grandparents
who are in declining health and whose days are simply numbered,
Each of us at some time in our lives, perhaps even today, face situations in which we just seem powerless and nearly without hope.
In our gospel today we hear of a man who was faced with a similar, hopeless, situation with his son.
since boyhood he had been afflicted with this demon.
It was a very violent demon and it would seem he had epileptic-like symptoms and seizures.
And the father tells Jesus that the demon often tried to throw his son into a fire or into water
Presumably, in order to destroy him.
Having hope in Jesus to heal his son, he brought his son to Jesus.
He had faith, of a sort, which brought him here.
But, perhaps desperation overshadowed the faith, as he proclaimed to Jesus, “if you can heal him...”
We come here in faith today, like this man; seeking Jesus in faith, but not really expecting much.
Some of our children, though not possessed, may be far from God.
Some of us, though healthy, may be dealing with a great sickness in our heart, or conscience.
Some of us, blessed to have survived the storm, are putting back together the broken pieces of our homes and businesses.
We have faith in Jesus, but we are desperate for him to save us, “if only he can...”
we have faith in the concept of salvation and justification
by the death of Jesus on the cross in the resurrection from the grave,
but we failed to have faith in him to save us today,
right now, in our present state of being.
And this is probably the greatest chink in the armor of western Christianity:
We know the faith as theology and philosophy,
but we don't experience the faith as a part of life.
We expect great things at the end of this life as a result of the faith we hold dear,
but we aren't ever looking for the blessings of faith right now, in the midst of the life we've been given.
And this is Jesus’ point to the father of this young man.
“Why have faith in me if you don't think I can help you?”
As we listen to the texts today they seem to focus on the power of words.
And when one talks of faith, it's essentially a discussion surrounding the amount of trust we place in words over other, tangible, evidence.
This is not to say words cannot be evidence.
If that were the case, no one would be asked to testify in a court of law,
nor would the vows we make at our weddings have meaning.
Yet, words eventually have to be confirmed
with physical results or fulfilled promises
in order for those words to gain a status of reliability and truth.
When Jesus speaks to the boy’s father he first confronts him with his own testimony when he says, “if you can!,”
It's a statement of doubt.
By beginning with “if” there is a conditionality to it.
“Jesus, if you have the power, please drive out my sons demons.
I know that it is not your will that he is possessed, but I'm not sure you can do anything about it?”
we weren't there to hear his inflection, but by the words Jesus Spoke and which were recorded here in Mark,
he was either incredulous at the man hedging his bets by qualifying the request with, “if you can,”
or, perhaps he was amused at his at his way of showing deference to Jesus,
by not assuming his request would be fulfilled
and giving Jesus an “easy out” by suggesting it's outside of his wheelhouse.
Whatever his take or interpretation of the man's words,
Jesus laid to rest its inaccuracy with another bold, powerful, set of words:
“all things are possible for one who believes.”
this is different than the angel’s reply to Mary when she heard she would bear the savior and asked, “how can this be?”
at that the Angel said,
“with God, all things are possible.”
because the miracle of the virgin's birth was God's idea, not Mary's,
this miracle, however, was being requested of an earthly father, not a heavenly one.
and what Jesus wanted this father to know is that healing for his son was possible.
And that healing comes about by faith.
And upon hearing this the man acknowledged his agreement with Jesus words by amending his request:
“Lord I believe and know you can heal my son.
Please, give me the faith to believe it will be accomplished by your word.”
And, really, isn't that the way of much of life?
We are kept from so many blessings because we don't have faith it will be realized?
The saying goes, “the journey of a lifetime begins with the first ____ (step)____!”
every journey requires faith before you begin.
And you do things which give you that faith .
If it's a road trip you fill the tank with gas and the tires with air and make sure your car is in tiptop shape.
If it's a college degree you seek
you study for the entrance exam
and then you do all of your homework when you get there.
If you see someone you want to marry,
you let them get to know you and vice versa,
so that you grow to love each other.
But none of these enterprises is without risk, yet we embark on them anyway.
Tires can blow out on the highway.
We might fail out of school.
And mates may break our hearts.
But our journey of faith in Jesus is different since we already know our destination is secure.
Each step we take there is safe as well,
though they may be in the wrong direction, or even a stumble, or cause us to fall,
Jesus promises to save us and keep us safe.
Moreover, he promises that whatever we need for the journey is available and ready for the asking: “All things are possible for one who believes.”
Jesus was able to drive out the demon because he believed it was his heavenly father's will.
Jesus knew the will of the father because
Not only were they in communion with one another as part of the Trinity,
but because he talked with God in prayer all the time.
Not only is prayer at the heart of our worship of God,
but it is essential to our relationship with him
because it allows us to talk with him
which enables us to listen for his reply and his will for us in life.
And the way we hear that reply and his will is through his words.
Very rarely are they audible in our ears or even upon our hearts,
but they're always, reliably heard through his scriptures.
And so the ability to believe in Jesus and be beneficiaries of our faith in him
grows proportionately with the time we spend in prayer and the study of his word.
And the two go hand in glove with one another.
Having faith in Jesus, he wants us to believe his words which work miracles in our life.
Not only are we forgiven, but his words of forgiveness allow us to forgive as well.
When we are reconciled to him, we are moved to be reconciled to one another.
When we are healed by him in our body and our soul, we move mountains to bring healing to others as well.
When we are comforted by his words, we pass on that comfort to others in his name.
When his words show us his love, we use loving words toward others that they too might know the love of God as well.
The hope you and I have by our faith in Jesus is made possible by his powerful words which we know to be trustworthy and true.
May we always seek to hear and learn them,
so that by them our faith may not only survive,
but so that we may thrive as we learn lean on and live by that faith in Jesus.
In his name I ask it. Amen.