"And He asked his father, "How long has this been happening
to him?" And he said, "From childhood. "It has often thrown
him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him but
if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!" And
Jesus said to him, " `If You can?' All things are possible
to him who believes." Immediately the boy's father cried out
and said, "I do believe; help my unbelief" (Mark 9:21-24)
In this text, Jesus asks a timeless question that is just as
relevant today as it was the day it was spoken. Whenever you
read that Jesus asked a question, it is a teaching moment.
He never asks questions because He doesn't know the answer
or for edification. For Jesus knows what is in the hearts of
men. Whenever Jesus asks a question, He is not only speaking
to the individual before Him, but to those who would
subsequently read the account.
Jesus, after coming down from the mountain, is immediately
presented with a situation. He is met by a father who has a
demon-possessed son. This is not something that has recently
come about, but is something that he has been living with for
years. It is a persistent problem. A problem that has not
become better but has grown worse over time. A problem that
he was able to hide in his home for a while, but has grown to
the point that it has spilled over into his public life.
Now the problem has taken over and he is no longer able to control
it. It shows up at the most inopportune times. It now affects
his relationships and his ability to live and enjoy life. He
has become a captive to this issue in his life. Jesus seeing
this man asks a question that appears simple, but is the key
to the man and his son's deliverance.
Jesus, the God-Man, who knows the beginning from the end,
asks: "How long has this been happening...?" It was a question
designed to cause the man to reflect on his situation. How
long have you been living with this dysfunction, disorder,
habit or issue in your life? How long have you been putting
up with this issue that you should have cast out along time
ago? How long have you been tolerating its presence and
accepting less than what God has for you in your life? How long
have you allowed this situation to fester? Jesus is asking you
and I the same question.
You can live with a situation so long that dysfunction becomes
normal and sin becomes acceptable. Suffering becomes routine
and disappointment is now expected. Things that you would
originally have cast out and cast away a long time ago, you now
In Jesus' question "How long", he illuminates the path to
deliverance for the father's son and for us as well. This
question causes us not only to look back at the origin of our
issue(s) or situation(s), but the reason why they remain an issue,
and how we can prevent them from continuing in our lives.
The first step toward deliverance is recognition. The question,
'How long?", was designed to cause the man to reflect upon his
situation. To cause identify the origin of his problem. How did
it begin and how did it get to the place it is today? It is
important for us to understand and identify the source and origin
of our pain, before we attempt to deal with it. If you don't
identify its origin, you may only be treating a symptom and not
Secondly, the question also insinuates that this was something
the father had control over. I believe that Jesus was really
asking him, "How long have you been willing to tolerate this
situation?" There are some thing in life that God has given us
the power and responsibility of handling ourselves. We pray and
seek others to help us with our issues, when the answer and power
to deal with them, has already been given to us.
Thirdly, you must believe that things can change. The reason this
problem became a persistent one is found in Jesus' statement to
the father that, "All things are possible to him who believes."
Many of our situations don't change because we've lived with them
for so long, that we no longer believe or expect them to change.
What you believe matters the most.
Jesus did what the father should have been able to do. You may be
dealing with or tolerating a situation that seems impossible.
It has become an impossibility because you have given up on
believing that it can change. You must believe that you deserve
better. You must believe that the rest of your life will be better
than the life you have already lived.
You have the power to make a change that will not only affect
your life but those you love. Your belief that deliverance and
breakthrough in your life is possible will determine "how long"
you must endure you current situation. Jesus said, "All things
are possible to him who believes." This includes you too!
By Dr. J.C. Matthews, Senior Pastor of Dunamis Life Ministries and Chancellor of The International Kingdom Institute.
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