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Summary: Affliction turns us to God

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Crisis of Faith

Mark 9:17-29

John Shearhart

June 19, 2011

In the scope of worldwide human suffering I’ve been blessed to live a comfortable life. I’ve had my moments of suffering, but by and large it’s been relatively pain free.

My time is coming though when I’ll be visited by death, sickness, loss, and heartache. Anyone who lives long enough will have to greet each of these visitors.

My goal in preaching this morning is to comfort those of you who are now suffering and to prepare those of you who are preparing for it.

Let’s turn to Mark 9 and see how by looking at…

One Man’s Crisis (:17-22)

And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; 18And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. 19He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. 20And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. 21And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. 22And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.

Can you imagine seeing your child do this? It must have been unbearable! The father feels so helpless that he actually says to Jesus, “if you can.”

Have you ever been in a situation like that? I’ve heard people say that God won’t put more on us than we can bear, but that’s just not true. He won’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear (I Cor. 10:13), but He often puts more suffering on us than we can bear without His help.

This man was forced to watch his son suffer to the point that he wasn’t sure if even Jesus could do anything about it.

Many of us share his doubt: “If you can.” Others of us know He can, but we’re frustrated that He doesn’t. “I know You can, so why don’t You?”

I hope this sermon answer that question:

The Crisis Builds Faith (:23-24)

23Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

This man’s faith is being stretched to the limit, so he turns to Christ for belief. “Help Thou mine unbelief.”

The Word received on rocky soil bears no fruit because persecution and affliction cause the hearers to fall away (Mt. 13:20-21). But the fruit of faith in the tender heart is made evident when it grows despite hardship.

Faith without hardship isn’t really faith at all, but faith is shown to be faith when we’re stretched beyond our limits—we need God!

And look at Jesus’ response: “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”

This verse has been confusing for some people who take it that with enough faith they can cause anything to happen. They look at this and verses like Mark 11:22-24 (“Say unto this mountain, Be thou removed”) and try to impose their will on circumstances.

But I don’t think that’s really the point. Even with faith we don’t know the future and we can’t work miracles at our own will—with faith we trust in the God who can move mountains at His will.

Faith can’t cure cancer, but it accepts adversity from the hand of the One who is sovereign and good. In other words, faith trusts God without doubting His ability to meet our needs or to act justly on our behalf. Faith has less to do with what we believe and more to do with in Whom we believe.

And so…

The Crisis Glorifies God (:25-27)

25When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. 26And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. 27But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.

Jesus saw that a crowd was forming, so He performed this authoritative act where they could see Him. The people thought he was dead, but Jesus shows that He has other plans and lifts the boy up!

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