14 When Jesus and those who were with him came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them. The teachers of the law were arguing with them. 15 When all the people saw Jesus, they were filled with wonder. And they ran to greet him. 16 “What are you arguing with them about?” Jesus asked. 17 A man in the crowd answered. “Teacher,” he said, “I brought you my son. He is controlled by an evil spirit. Because of this, my son can’t speak anymore. 18 When the spirit takes hold of him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth. He grinds his teeth. And his body becomes stiff. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit. But they couldn’t do it.” 19 “You unbelieving people!” Jesus replied. “How long do I have to stay with you? How long do I have to put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 20 So they brought him. As soon as the spirit saw Jesus, it threw the boy into a fit. He fell to the ground. He rolled around and foamed at the mouth. 21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “Since he was a child,” he answered. 22 “The spirit has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us. Please help us.” 23 “ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for the one who believes.” 24 Right away the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe! Help me overcome my unbelief!” 25 Jesus saw that a crowd was running over to see what was happening. Then he ordered the evil spirit to leave the boy. “You spirit that makes him unable to hear and speak!” he said. “I command you, come out of him. Never enter him again.” 26 The spirit screamed. It shook the boy wildly. Then it came out of him. The boy looked so lifeless that many people said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand. He lifted the boy to his feet, and the boy stood up. 28 Jesus went indoors. Then his disciples asked him in private, “Why couldn’t we drive out the evil spirit?” 29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”
What was it that frustrated Jesus? In this passage we see that it was unbelief – on the part of the disciples, and the father – that frustrated Him. Frustration is defined as the feeling of being annoyed or upset as a result of being unable to change or achieve something.
Jesus had power over the wind and the waves, He could command demons to flee, He could feed thousands with a few pieces of bread and fish, and He could even raise the dead… and the crowds and disciples had seen all this! Yet they still struggled to believe in Jesus. His consistent demonstration of power and integrity had not changed the state of unbelief in many hearts, and Jesus was exasperated by this.
God governs the whole universe, yet He respects the freedom He has given us and does not force us to have faith. What patience Jesus has, that He continues to walk amongst foolish people, showing compassion and grace, when we struggle with unbelief.
God, I acknowledge that I struggle with unbelief. Please help me to be expectant and to look with eyes of faith. Help me to recall to mind how great you are and the miracles you have done. I do not want to cause you frustration Jesus, I want to live each day with bold faith. Amen.
Written by Bethany Waugh