Mark 9:18b - "So I asked Your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able."
Have you ever been in a situation where you weren't able to do what you needed to do? Failure is humiliating. It's even worse when people are pointing and laughing. But worst of all is when somebody you love is depending on you, and you can't do what they need.
Something like this happened -- several times, actually! -- right after Jesus' transfiguration. He came down the mountain to find His disciples in the middle of a crowd, all arguing and complaining. That must have been a mood-breaker. Jesus asks what's going on, and the crowd spits forth a man with a demon-possessed child. He had brought his son to the disciples for healing, but they could not cast out the evil spirit.
How embarrassing for the disciples -- and how unexpected! After all, they had cast out evil spirits before, with the power Jesus had given them (Mark 6:13). It was even worse when some scribes showed up and started arguing with them about it.
Jesus is exasperated. "O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to Me" He is clearly disappointed in someone -- probably the scribes, and perhaps the crowd, too.
Then the father of the boy goofs up: he says, "If You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us!" Oops! Lack of faith again. Jesus calls him on it, though gently, and the man immediately reverses course, saying, "I believe; help my unbelief!"
Then Jesus addresses the demon. He commands it to come out. It does, though not without a final seizure, and the child seems dead. But he's not. Jesus gives the boy back to his father, and everything's all right again. (See Mark 9:19-29).
Notice all the failures in this story. The disciples can't cast out the demon; the crowd gets blamed for their lack of faith; the father betrays a similar lack of faith; even Jesus Himself seems to fail for a moment, when the child seems dead. What a mess! This doesn't look like a triumphant victory. And yet, that's what it is. God has worked through all these people to set a child free from the power of evil. Even their worst mistakes were not enough to keep God from saving.
This is true with us, too, isn't it? We mess up all the time. It's rare that we manage to pull off anything, even an act of Christian service, with the magnificent grace we wish we had. We trip, fall, and crawl our way to victory. Or more accurately, we crawl to Jesus -- who turns our defeat into a blessing none of us could ever imagine.
Are you going through a time like that? If so, do what the disciples did, do what the father did. Bring it to Jesus. He can redeem our worst mistakes -- because He has redeemed us.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, when I fail, please help me. Take my failures and redeem them. Bring good out of them according to Your will. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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