Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lenten Devotionals - Mark 9:14-29


This passage made me think back to the whole faith vs. trust issue.

Here we see a father, who says if Jesus could help him, please would he. This father is lacking in faith; he doesn't know, for sure, if Jesus could banish the spirit, especially since the disciples were already unable to do so. This makes Jesus grumpy (or as grumpy as we ever see him, anyway), because the man doesn't believe that Jesus can. The issue is one of faith--but not, it seems, of trust. The man seems confident that if Jesus could, he would--the phrase "take pity and help us" seems almost like a dare. The man trusts Jesus would; he doesn't seem sure if he can.

My problem is the opposite. I'm more the person begging on the sides. I know Jesus can cast out the demons, can heal the sick, can do...well, anything. My issue is more if Jesus would for me. I think that's more an issue of trust, not of faith, since I'm not doubting the power of God. I'm doubting the character of God.

Which on one hand, seems silly. Jesus has not turned anyone away. Any time someone asks him for help, they have received it. Perhaps it is because the things they are asking for--a cure from leprosy, or a demon to be cast out, or some food so they won't starve on the way home--are related to needs over wants. I don't see anyone begging Jesus for something to make them happy. I can think of Old Testament stories like that--pretty much every woman who asked for a child comes to mind immediately--but not really any in the New Testament.

And God has provided for my needs well. I have a good job, which trained me a solid career. I have a lovely little apartment. I have a church that, while full of humans, is a good church. I can afford to live and take a vacation and do things I enjoy. If my life was to continue on the next forty years this way, it would be a good life. Boring, perhaps, but good. This is why I think I'm too demanding when I complain about the things I don't have: God has granted me a good life.

But it's a stationary life. I'm bored. I want the change that everyone else gets. I want to be able to move, and marry, and have kids, and have seasons again. I have lost my ability to have seasons. Is that a need? Is that necessary? No. Absolutely not. I can live a good life as is. I just don't want my life to forever be as is. I'm not ungrateful for what I have. I just want to know this isn't all I'm getting. I want change. If I knew it was coming, I would be so much happier.

But I'm supposed to deny myself and take up my cross. And a life like this, even if it doesn't change, isn't much of a cross really. I'll be hit with envy from all sides, and probably fatigue, but it's not going to be that bad. Denying myself, not allowing myself to change, is going to be difficult. But when all is said and done, I probably have it easy.

I believe God could grant me change. I just don't think he will. And Jesus isn't going around fixing people's lives to make them happier, so I should just shut up and be satisfied as is. Enjoy my volunteering and general productivity. Sigh about the lack of change, but know that I'm at least not becoming a insufferable married person. Silver linings, I suppose.

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