Let’s face it, in troubled times, we are looking for help. We want a way out. We want someone to solve the problem and make it all better, preferably right away. When life gets tough we can lose our perspective. Let me share a story of two men and observe how perspective makes all the difference. Both men want something from Jesus, but take a close look at how they approach the matter.
The first man is a troubled father with a son who is possessed by a spirit that has taken away the boy’s speech and causes him dangerous convulsions. The man is frustrated and troubled and is looking for a way out of this terrible situation. Here is what he says to Jesus – “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” (Mark 9:22b NIV)
The second man is a leper. At the time of Jesus, leprosy was an incurable disease. It brought great heartache and isolation as lepers were ostracized from society and separated from their loved ones. The man was brave to approach Jesus. Here is what Mark 1:40 says he said to Jesus – “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Both men are distraught and troubled with situations that have no earthly solution in that time period. Each of their circumstances seem absolutely hopeless. Yet one man has true hope and the other does not. Can you spot the difference in the words they use?
The father says “if you CAN” whereas the leper says “if you WILL”. Who truly believes that Jesus will heal their need and solve their problem? It’s the leper.
Jesus responds strongly to the father in verse 23: “’If you can?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for him who believes.’” Can you imagine Jesus’ tone of voice in replying to the father? I am sure His words were said with force and power. After all, what was the man thinking? He brings his son there because he has heard of Jesus’ reputation for healing the sick. Why then does he doubt that Jesus can actually resolve his son’s infirmity? This man is setting limits on what Jesus can do. A true believer does not.
That is what makes the leper different. He knows without a doubt that Jesus will heal him. The leper also recognizes the fact, though, that Jesus doesn’t heal everyone. The leper trusts that Jesus has his best interests at heart and if healing is what he needs, then that is what Jesus will do.
Jesus’ response to this man is very different to that of the father and son. Verse 41 of chapter 1 tells us that Jesus was filled with compassion and he tells the leper “I am willing” and He heals him. There are no firm words here of discipline and instruction like the father needed. Here Jesus showers the leper with His love and the leper goes away rejoicing.
Thankfully, the story of the father and son ends well. Verse 24 tells us that, after being corrected by Jesus, he says “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!” Jesus drives the evil spirit out from the boy and he is healed. The father’s heart is also changed as he truly believes in Jesus.
What does these two stories mean for us in these troubling times? I know I hope to have the leper’s attitude and believe that Jesus will do what is best for me. Maybe that means He will rectify my situation immediately. Sometimes it means I have to wait for His intervention or know that Jesus walks with me through whatever trouble comes my way. The leper is all about trust and that is what I want. Trusting in my Saviour, in all circumstances, is what brings true peace and hope.
Thankfully, on days when I am more like the father with some doubts and fears, Jesus is still there. He forgives me and sets me right again when I am repentant.
Take heart and trust that our Lord and Saviour has your best interests in mind. He is there to be your Friend and Comforter. Let Him do as He has promised. Take Him at His word. Then, no matter what happens, hope exists.