We have now passed the halfway point of Great Lent and our focus is turned toward faith, or should I say the lack of faith. The middle of anything can be a very difficult place to be, there is just as much behind us as there is before us. I am not a marathon runner, but I can imagine that the half way mark is the hardest part. Do you stop or keep going? Lent is the same, but like the marathon, if we hang in there the reward is great.
The Scripture passage chosen for this past Sunday came from the Gospel of St. Mark and tells the story of a father who brings his son to Jesus for healing from a demon that he has had for many years. The man describes the situation and Jesus and tells Him that he brought his son to the disciples, but they could not make him well. Jesus then replies, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you?” Jesus then asks that the boy be brought to him.
A conversation takes place between Jesus and the boy’s father about his condition and how long he has been this way. Jesus tells the man, “If you believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” The man replies, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”
The entirety of our spiritual life begins, and ends, with faith. Each step we take along the path requires faith, sometimes it takes more faith than other times, but faith is necessary. But we also struggle with our faith, and I believe that if we are not struggling then we are not doing it right. The struggle is all part of the spiritual walk.
One of the most meaningful scenes of Scripture for me is Jesus in the Garden prior to His arrest. Scripture tells us that He prayed so hard that drops of blood formed on his forehead. He prayed to God that another way be found for what was about to happen. Jesus was fully aware what was going to happen to him, and His human part was afraid. I think we sometimes forget that Jesus was human and divine, and He has the same feelings that we have.
This passage is comforting to me in many ways. Here is Jesus, the Son of God, and He was struggling with His faith, even if it was for just a moment in time, but He struggled with what was coming next. He knew what he had to do; He knew what his destiny was, but He still had questions. But the end of that story needs to be the same for us, not my will but God’s will. This is not easy.
The disciples that the man brought his son too lacked faith. Maybe they lacked faith in their ability to do what was being asked of them, or maybe they lacked faith in healing, in general. Whatever it was they lacked it, and that prevented them doing what needed to be done.
How much faith do we really have? Do we truly trust in God, as we are supposed too, for everything?
Trust is not an easy concept to wrap our heads around especially trust in God. We always want to be in control of all aspects of our lives, and it is difficult to let go and let God as the old saying goes. But trust, like forgiveness, is essential to the spiritual life and trust is what helps us to develop faith.
If the disciples had faith and trust, they would have been able to bring relief to the boy and his father and who knows what else. I believe that Jesus was speaking more to His disciples than to the Man when He asked about the faithless generation. In the end, the man showed great faith in bringing his son to Jesus to be made well, and that is the same faith that we need to have. We cannot wait until times get so bad that we have nothing else, we need to have that faith now!
As we continue, the journey of Great Lent lets us work on faith, the faith that will give us the ability to do more than we can ever hope for or imagine.