“When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith;" - Matthew 17:14-19

PRESENT FAITH OR PAST FAITH?

One of the sayings my wife and I learned early on in our parenting years is—a parent is only as happy as their unhappiest child. Any of you who are parents, you understand that.

With that in mind, in the first verse of today’s Scripture reference, it’s easy to see this father was an extremely unhappy man. His son was very sick. To no avail, he had used all of his resources, even telling Jesus he had taken his son to His disciples and they couldn’t help. He was probably exhausted, living with constant anxiety from having no idea when another seizure might occur. He came and fell to his knees in front of Jesus—frantically looking for someone to help.

Surprisingly, the first thing Jesus did was to address His disciples. He had given them the authority to heal the sick and raise the dead, yet here was undeniable proof that they had failed. After reprimanding them, Jesus said, “Bring the boy to me.” Then, He healed the boy immediately. Imagine the relief and gratitude of this dad. But, the disciples were confused and asked why they had not been able to cure this man’s son. Jesus said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith…”

What had happened? I have a feeling what occurred with the disciples is, over time, they began to shift from a total trust in Christ to a sense of self confidence. It was a shift from a ‘God confidence’ to ‘self-confidence.’ They probably began to use the name of Jesus just like some magic wand. Because the name of Jesus had worked in the past, it surely would work with this boy. Yet, they didn’t realize that, ever so subtly, they had begun to just have confidence in their abilities rather than total dependence on Christ. God’s power is not experienced in the present because you had faith in the past. God’s power is experienced in the present when you have faith in the present.

Don’t forget this paradoxical truth – when we come to the end of ourselves is when real faith begins. We see that happen in this desperate father’s life when he fell to his knees before Jesus, the Great Physician. We see it happen in the lives of the disciples, as they began to understand how they had shifted their faith in Jesus into faith in themselves.

What about you? Is yours a “present” faith, or are you trying to be fueled by your “past” faith? My prayer is that we will always stay in such close communion with God that our faith will always be a “present” faith. And may that faith give you the power to live a victorious life!

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