by Martin Oldfield
Click here to download your printable verse to carry with you today.
‘“Why couldn’t we drive it out?” [Jesus] replied, “This kind can only come out by prayer”’ (Mark 9:28,29).
This story started back in Mark 3 when Jesus appointed his 12 disciples and gave them the power to cast out demons. Peter, James and John had been up the mountain attending the Transfiguration while the remaining nine were left to deal with the Jewish religious leaders and a crowd watching as the nine newbies tried to cast out a demon in a child. It didn’t happen – they couldn’t do it.
When Jesus arrived on the scene, he got frustrated that neither his disciples nor the Jewish leaders were able to cast out the demon. You bunch of wallies, he seemed to be saying. He proceeded to do the job himself.
The reality was that the disciples were in over their heads. They couldn’t figure out why they could not cast out this demon when they had been able to do so before (Mark 6:13). Jesus’ answer cut to the heart of the problem – you cannot do this on your own strength but only by asking God to do it. The disciples had begun to think that, somehow, they had been casting out the demons under their own strength, not by God’s authority and power.
And so often, we fall into this trap. We find ourselves in a situation that we know needs us to respond, and we either do nothing or try to solve the problem on our own. We are in over our heads. And then we realise that what God has asked us to do is beyond our abilities on our own. He tells us ‘Of course I will ask you to do things that you can only achieve if you rely on me to help you – otherwise you wouldn’t need faith’ (Matthew 17:20). He tells us to love our enemies, forgive our brothers, go and make disciples, but we reply, ‘I can’t do that’, or ‘I’m not gifted like that’. In response, God says, ‘You might be in over your head, but with me, you can do it all’. Just imagine for a moment what would happen if our actions showed that we believe this promise!
Dear Dad, I’m in over my head. I want to love you, love my neighbour and make disciples for your kingdom. But often I simply can’t do it – these are easy to say but so hard to do. I need your strength to do the things you ask me to do. Please help! Amen.