Dr. Demetrius A. Russell, Sr.
Being a father isn’t always celebrated because of the poor representation of those I would call sperm donors. I get it. Some mothers are left alone to take care of children they did not create by themselves. We cannot ignore the fact that there are many fathers who step up daily and deal with the difficulties of parenthood. There is a struggle for many because there are powers that be, that include the system of white supremacy and the lack of jobs which sometimes leads to feeling that the only option is hustling. The system that is structured to send them to jail when others are given probation. The system that almost resembles a demonic spirit. And we have fathers living through the perils of the system, attempting to intervene on behalf of their children. And it seems like they are failing, but in fact, they are operating through a system that’s meant to lead to failure. And in many cases, all they are doing is trying to find help.
I believe the presented in Mark 9. A father has a son who is dealing with a demonic spirit and he appears to be doing what he can to assist in alleviating the pain. He basically is saying, “I’m just trying to be a good father.” In attempting to be a good father, there are three realities that this text addresses.
First, the reality of frustration. The father gives a synopsis as to what his son is struggling with. He says he has a dumb spirit. Let’s pause there.
He’s frustrated because his son is dealing with a demonic spirit that’s left him dumb. This word dumb suggests that this boy no longer has the ability to speak. He no longer has a voice. He cannot tell the father what’s going on.
Perhaps there’s frustration also because the father is helpless. He can’t help his son the way he should because the system, I mean the demonic spirit, controls his speech, thus he’s voiceless. In addition, the spirit controls his actions. Since he can’t speak and tell the system, I mean demonic spirit to stop, it’s having it’s way with him. The father says, the system, I mean demonic spirit, tears him or rips him with the hope of destroying him. He’s foaming at the mouth and grinding his teeth. And it’s causing him to wither away. He doesn’t look like the father’s any more. He doesn’t have that smile. He doesn’t tell jokes. He doesn’t have friends. He doesn’t quote the Torah like he used to and the father is frustrated. He is even more frustrated because he brought his son to the master who was not there. Since the disciples could not help his son, the father felt he had wasted his time.
Second, the question of faith. When Jesus listens to the man vent his frustration watch His response. In verse 19, Jesus addresses the disciples and deals with the missed opportunity to engage in ministry. This boy is dealing with a system, I mean a demonic spirit that’s meant to kill him or to drive him away from his purpose. Jesus says, I’m tired of this, BRING THE BOY TO ME. The disciples lacked faith but Jesus moves from the other nine disciples to the boy’s father.
The boy is brought to Jesus and the system, I mean demonic spirit, knows that deliverance is on the way so he makes one last attempt to destroy this boy’s future
But Jesus, looks at the father and calmly asks, how long has this boy been this way? And he says, since he was a child. He says that the system, I mean demonic spirit, throws him into the fire and water to destroy him to make it look like suicide. If I can use my Holy Ghost hypothetical imagination, the father says, I know he would never do anything like this. He’s trying his best to but what’s attached to him is greater than what he can do. I’ve tried and I can’t.
Seeing this father cry out before Jesus makes me consider the plight of many fathers today, especially our fathers of African descent who are trying to move past societal and spiritual demons and are struggling because of the systems in place whether it be political, social, economic or even in the church. And while others are fighting stupid wars concerning who can do, which political party is right and while many are fighting issues that do not matter, there are Brothers who are exclaiming: “I just want you to see me for who I am. If you fought for me to born, fight for me to live.” And this father says, “I’m just trying to be a father the best way I know how. But Jesus, if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” His plea to Jesus is for him to be moved from a deep place of sympathy and heal his son.
Many have stated that they are tired of waiting on the system to mature and do what is right. That they are tired of those who claim to be followers of Jesus that have little to no power. We must learn to place all of our faith and trust in Jesus to have compassion and move to aid in this time of need. Notice how Jesus responds. He says in vs 23, if you can believe, all things are possible to those who believe.
Then the father cries out immediately, I believe, help my unbelief. This word unbelief suggests a weakness. Many will look down on the father. However, when you are a father that cares for your children, love your children and only want what’s best for them, you end up getting disappointed. You become vulnerable so much so that you refuse to continue being hurt. He says, I want to be vulnerable again to receive help, but after all these years, after my son has been beat up by this demonic spirit, I believe because I’ve heard what you can do, but I don’t know if you can or will do it for me. Lord you gotta help my weakness of faith.
Waiting on God, when you see everyone else moving ahead and you’re stuck, can cause a weakness in faith. Seeing other’s children get what they need when your child is still waiting brings, about a weakness of faith. Trying to be a man and taking care of responsibilities and you can’t get a job or you’re only receiving part-time jobs barely making ends meet, causes a weakness of faith. When you’re trying to and it seems as if nothing matters, it causes a weakness of faith. But the father says, I’m willing to trust you.
Placing our faith in Jesus’ abilities leads to the third reality-uncertainty of the future. Let me pause to introduce this point. Our ability to trust God, brings about uncertainty. Not knowing what Jesus will do for us raises many thoughts and presents the questions, “Will he do it for me.” As a father, we don’t always know, the how of what God will do for us, but we can’t always go by his lack of speaking. We must rely on His actions.
Verse 25 tells us that after the father says I believe, help my unbelief, Jesus pays attention to the things or people that would add or assist in his lack of belief. When Jesus saw the crowd running over, he acts immediately. Jesus says thou dumb and deaf spirit come out of him and don’t enter into him again. Notice the response of the system, I mean the demonic spirit. When it hears Jesus speaks, it has no choice but to obey. On its way out, it put up a fight so much so that it tried to kill the son.
By this time, the crowd had made it and said loudly “he’s dead.” Can you see this man that’s trying to be the best father he can? He tried to get his son to Jesus. Jesus does work, but his son is lying there lifeless. He’s already cried out “help my unbelief” and to see his son lifeless has added to his doubt.
But even in uncertainty, watch Jesus in vs. 27. He extends his hand to the son; the future moves from uncertainty to possibilities. Jesus does not extend the hand and expect the boy to respond. Jesus grabs his hand and lifts him up! As a result of Jesus’ actions, the boy got up.
When we see fathers struggling with their kids being controlled by the system, don’t talk about them. Don’t shake your head in disappointment, but do what you can to help! Fathers, don’t give up! Keep trying to be the best father you can!