Scripture: Matthew 17:14 When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, 15 and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” 17 Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”
Observation: Jesus and three of the disciples (Peter, James, and John) were away when the other nine disciples tried – and failed – to heal a boy with epilepsy. They are told the reason they failed was “because of your little faith”. It was one thing for the disciples to exercise Kingdom authority with Jesus and their leaders present, but doubt crept in when they were called to minister on their own. And, to be clear, they didn’t doubt God’s power to overcome demonic oppression in the boy. They doubted they could do what they’d seen Jesus and their leaders do. In other words, it was self-doubt that sabotaged them.
Application: I can relate to the disciples here. There have been many times life when I’ve been trained to do something – and done well with my teacher present to support me. But when left on my own, I’ve succumbed to self-doubt and performed poorly. Confidence is something that takes time, and the process is often not pretty. The key for all of us in such situations is to stay with it. A key mentor of mine used to say, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly for a time”. True dat.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, our passage for today shows us the reality of growing pains. There is simply no substitute for experience. Give us grace not to give up when fear and doubt get in our way. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.