Whether we’re making meals, changing diapers, or shuttling kids to baseball practice, parents are doers. Always in protective mode, we apply sunscreen and Band-Aids as needed, and when we hit a wall with a need we can’t meet ourselves, we consult with the experts.
Long before parents could ransack Google or WebMD for medical advice, the distraught dad of Mark 9 wore his son’s need day and night–until the day he carried it in hope to Jesus. With disappointment written plainly on his face, he stepped out of the crowd and met Jesus’s level gaze. One arm protectively encircled his son’s shoulders, but any family resemblance was obscured by the son’s disfiguring burn scars, patchy hair, and missing eyebrows. Love and anguish constricted the man’s voice as he explained his dilemma to Jesus:
“I went to your disciples, but they couldn’t help. A demon has stolen my son’s voice, and he throws the boy to the ground, into the water and into the fire. Please. If you can help us…” (Mark 9:17-18, 22)
Before he could finish the story and fully convey his frustration and need, his boy hit the ground right there before Jesus’s compassionate eyes.
Mark alone of the four Gospel-writers records the father’s anxious response to Jesus’s certainty that “all things are possible”: “I believe!” he says. “Help my unbelief!” With an eye to portraying Christ’s humanity and emotional responses, Mark departed from his usual spare, just-the-facts-ma’am narrative style to document a father’s expression of faith diluted by doubt but emboldened by desperation. In his outburst, we hear the lingering horror of near drownings, the blurted exhaustion of continual vigilance.
Parenting does that. Like nothing else in my following life, mothering has taken me to the edge of what I know for sure about God and how to follow him well. Parenting has continually exposed my need for a stronger faith.
That’s why the story of the Mark 9 dad stopped me in my tracks during this year’s read through the Gospels. Desiring God is graciously sharing my rendering of this story and its application to our own desperate parenting moments. It would be a gift if you joined me over there today…
Grateful for you,
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