Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash 

Dear Disciples of Christ,

“If” – in today’s world, when we say “if” it’s often a hopeful thought of what might’ve been. “Ifs” lead to a stream of “would’ve, should’ve, could’ve – but didn’t” thoughts. “If the referee would’ve made the right call, my team could’ve won.” “If I could’ve made more money, I’d be happier.” 

St. Mark’s gospel recounts another big “if”. It happens when a father who is beside himself with anguish over his son’s plight in life … violent, uncontrollable seizures that cause horrific injuries. He’s heard about Jesus and His disciples and the incredible miracles they’d done (e.g. Mark 5, Mark 6:7-13, Mark 8:1-10). So, he hoped they could heal his boy and bring him peace. But Jesus’ disciples couldn’t do it (Mark 9:17-18). He finally calls out to Jesus, in a form of prayer, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us!” In New Testament Greek, there are three kinds of “ifs” – one that’s not likely to happen, one that could happen, and one that’s very likely to happen. The father’s “if” is one that’s very likely to happen. It’s as if he would’ve prayed, “Jesus, I know you can do anything … help us!” His faith-filled prayer to Jesus, the Son of God, was answered as Jesus healed his son.

The disciples, followers of Jesus, were amazed. They asked Jesus why they couldn’t heal the boy. Jesus’ response, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer” (Mark 9:29). 

God hears our faith-filled prayers, and He answers them. Faith-filled prayers trust God to hear and answer our prayers in accord with His good and perfect will. When it comes to God, our “if” isn’t an “if” of doubt, uncertainty, or might’ve been. It’s an “if” of certainty in knowing God will respond to our need in the way that’s best for us. His response might be, “Yes”, “No”, or “Wait.” But we know that however He answers, we’ll get what we truly need to persevere in faith. Let us approach God with the “If of Certainty”.

                                                                                    In Christ’s Love,

                                                                                    Pastor Jim