When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “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. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” “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.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment. (Matthew 17:14–18)
A desperate father seeks the help of Jesus’ disciples but meets with frustration. We don’t know what the disciples were doing for the boy, but Jesus sees immediately their lack of faith. And this faithlessness is what Matthew wants to highlight in his gospel, for he again gives a sparse account in comparison with the other synoptic gospels.
I can feel this father’s pain, for it has been the burden of my own father (and mother). My brother has suffered from epilepsy since he was just three years old, and although my parents have sought healing from the Lord, my brother still has this disease. Why God heals at times and at other times does not is one of the biggest mysteries of our faith. I can only put it down to the fall of humanity, when our first parents chose their own way and thus sin, disease, and death entered the universe.
So in terms of my brother and this story, I believe that he is not demon-possessed but afflicted by our fallen nature. We ask God to heal and desire that he would do so. But when he does not we continue to ask him to increase our faith. And to give us the wisdom to know when to accept that healing may not come this side of heaven.
How about you? Have you pleaded with the Lord for something but your cries seemed to fall on deaf ears? May your trust in him continue to grow, and may he give you wisdom and understanding.
Prayer: Father God, we don’t always understand. Enlarge our grasp of your truth and your love, and give us your peace.