The father was discouraged. His son had a problem that they could not overcome. No matter what they did, it came back. (See Mark 9:17–22.)
This is like the person who has a besetting sin that he cannot overcome. He may give it up for a month, but then it overpowers him. He may give it up for three months, but again, he is overcome, until finally he is so discouraged that, like this father, he says to Jesus, “Lord, if you can do anything, please have compassion on me, and help me.”
Jesus promised, “If you are able to believe, all things are possible to the one who believes.” Mark 9:23. All things are possible.
Necessity of Faith
All of a sudden this father had a new revelation. He realized that whether his son was going to be healed or whether he was going to die under the possession of this evil spirit depended on whether or not he had faith. He became scared. We ought to feel scared sometimes.
There is nothing wrong with a minister preaching about hell once in a while. Maybe we do not preach about hell enough. Ellen White said that few believe that we have a heaven to win and a hell to shun. (The Desire of Ages, 636.) It is true that everything is lost if we do not have faith, and this ought to make us scared. We should feel compelled to go to the Lord and ask Him to give us enough faith to be saved. We ought to start talking faith.
Ellen White said that if we talk faith, we will have faith. (Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, 307.) She said, “The simple prayer of faith is music in the ears of the Lord.” The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, vol. 4, 1696. He has the power to solve every problem we have, if we will turn things over to Him, if we will trust Him, and if we will make a full commitment to Him.
We, in English-speaking countries, do not understand very well what the meaning is of the word faith. We think it is a mental assent. That is what they taught in Jesus’ time, too. It is not just making a mental assent; the word faith in the New Testament embodies believing something so much that we make a commitment—a life and death commitment.
This father was scared, and verse 24 says, “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe.’ ” He made a decision. He decided that he was going to believe, but he was struggling with doubt. I have seen this happen over and over again. A person chooses to believe, but he or she is struggling with doubt. The father knew he was in the presence of Someone that had the power, and I believe he ascertained that this Person knew whether or not he had faith. That made him even more scared. He said, “I believe,” but he was struggling with doubt, so he said, “You help my unbelief.”
Commit to Jesus
If you need a word of encouragement, commit your life to Jesus Christ. That is what the word faith means; you make a commitment; you commit your life to Him. He has never, ever, lost one case that has been fully committed to Him. He will not lose your case either, if you make the commitment. You may be the weakest; you may be the most sinful; you may think that your problem is worse than anyone else’s problem; but it is still true that Jesus has never, ever lost one case.
In the day of final judgment at the end of the millennium, when all the lost people are gathered around outside the Holy City, if there is one person in that group who could say, “Lord, I committed my life totally and completely to You by reading Your Word and endeavoring to follow Your instructions, but now I am lost,” it would destroy the government of God. Do you know why? Because if there were just one person who could say that, it would prove that God is a liar.
In Hebrews 7:25, the Bible says that He is able to save perfectly everyone who comes to Him. Jesus said, in John 6:37, “He that comes to Me, I will in no case cast out.” That includes each one of us.
Even if you are the most sinful—even if you are like the father of this child with a problem you have been struggling with for years—come to Jesus.
Causes of Discouragement
Why do people become discouraged? One reason is because they have a problem that seems unsolvable. It just seems to come back again and again.
Another reason people become discouraged is because of what they have lost. I will give you an example from a long time ago. In a cemetery in Petersburg, Illinois, just a few feet from where many of my family members are buried, there is a tombstone for Ann Rutledge. Ann Rutledge was a sweetheart of Abraham Lincoln. No doubt they would have been married, but she became ill and died. On her tombstone is a poem about the experience she shared with Abraham Lincoln. He never got over her death. If you have ever really loved someone and then lost him or her, you may understand.
Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Denmark and to meet with some of my family members whom I had never seen before. They had arranged to take me to the ancient Grosboll Farm. They told me, “Your family does not live here anymore. Even though it is called by your name, all of your family left this farm in 1832.” They took me to two different churches. At the first church, they told me, “Your great, great grandfather was a leader in this church.” It was a very, very old church—hundreds of years old. The nation of Denmark was set in the Protestant Reformation so my family was Lutheran. When we went to the second church, they said, “Your great, great grandmother was christened in this church.” In the back of that church were displayed all the pastors from previous years—all the way back to 1580.
It was there that I learned how different people in my family had been named. Some of the names went back as far as hundreds of years. One of the popular names in that country for Protestant Christian boys was Christian and for female children a feminized derivative of the name Christian. We do that in North America, too. There are several feminine forms of the word Christian, such as Christiana, Christina, Kerstin, and Christine, which I discovered was a common name. All those are derivatives of the name Christian. My great, great grandmother, I learned from her tombstone, was named Kerstin, so that became a very common name in our family. My grandmother named her oldest daughter that name; her middle name was Christine.
When my Aunt Christine was 20 years of age, she and a young man were planning to be married, but she became sick and died very suddenly. I met a lady in Texas a few years ago who had been with her the day that she died, and she told me that Aunt Christine had said over and over again, “I do not want to die.” When you are 20 years old, you do not want to die.
Thirty-five years later, the man whom she would have married was the president of the college that I chose to attend. My mother and I went into his office to talk with him, and when we introduced ourselves, he immediately began to talk about Christine.
There was a loss in our family that, in this world, we will never get over. It occurred over 60 years ago. My uncle once told me, “She was the cream of our family.”
People become discouraged because of what they have lost, and some people have lost a lot. Sometimes people come to be discouraged because nobody in this world seems to understand the trials, the trouble, the loss, the grief, the cross, the suffering, the loneliness, the pain that is in their hearts. There may not be anyone in the whole world that understands the pain that is in your heart, because you have a secret grief that nobody else can understand. I want to tell you something. There is Someone that does understand. Not only does He understand, but if you will commit your life fully to Him, He wants to make a contract, a covenant, with you.
Reward of Commitment
The covenant He would like to make with you is found in Matthew 19:29. It says, “Everyone whoever has left houses or brothers or sisters, father, mother, wife [spouse], or children or lands [real estate], on account of My name . . . .” “Oh,” someone may say, “Pastor John, you do not understand my situation. My parents tell me that I must not marry a non-Adventist, and there is no Adventist within close proximity of where I live who is available. How is the Lord going to work out my problem?” I do not know how the Lord is going to work out your problem, but I do know one thing. If you commit your life to Him and if you should lose out on everything for His name’s sake, you shall receive a hundredfold. My aunt lost out on some things. She never married. She never had children. She was trained to be a missionary nurse, but she was only able to work as a missionary nurse for about one year. She missed out on many things of life, but Jesus said, “Anyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold.”
Jesus is coming soon! Sometimes when historic Seventh-day Adven-tist ministers preach, showing the people God’s standard—we must be perfect; we must have absolutely pure hearts; we must have a sinless record; we must have a garment or character without a spot—people wonder how they will ever get ready in time. If you make a complete commitment with the Lord, then that is His problem! Philippians 1:6 says that if you make the commitment, He is going to see you through to the desired goal. God does not make junk, and He does not do a job halfway and then let it be. He is going to lead you to where you need to be, but you must make the commitment.
Jesus is coming soon. I want to tell you one of the things that I look forward to seeing. When I was in Denmark, I visited different cemeteries and churches, and I looked at pictures of my ancestors, and I said to myself, “I know they were all Protestant Christians; I hope these people are saved. I want to meet them.”
A short time before she died, my Aunt Christine had a dream. In her dream, she was taken up to heaven. It was shown to her that most of her family was going to be saved, but not all. That dream made an impression on her younger brother, my father. When I was growing up, my father used to gather us in a circle, at family worship time in the morning and in the evening, and he would pray to God that our family would be saved without the loss of one. I know that I must be saved in order for my father’s prayer to be answered. I have to make the commitment to the Lord so I can be saved and my father’s prayer can be answered.
When we are taken up to that better land, I am looking forward to many things, but to one thing especially. Matthew 19:29 says, “Whatever you’ve lost . . . .” If we could fully grasp this, it would change our whole lives. We would not be nearly as concerned about what we have lost in this world. “Whatever you have lost, will be returned to you a hundredfold.” My Aunt Christine is going to be granted a reward that I am not. I did not lose what she lost. I did not have to give up my life when I was 20 years old. I got married. I have two children; I have two grandchildren. I did not lose what my aunt lost, so she is going to receive a reward I am not going to receive, and it is going to be a hundredfold. I do not know what it is, but I want to be there and see her receive it!
Oh, friend, you cannot afford to miss this. You cannot afford to allow the devil to make you so discouraged that you give up. You cannot afford that! If you give up, you are lost. You have to come to the Lord, as did the man in Mark 9. He said, “Lord, if you can do anything, save us.” Verse 22.
The Lord said, “If you can believe, all things are possible.” Verse 23. There is no one so weak, so sinful, that God cannot save, if they are willing to commit their lives to Christ.
“None but God can subdue the pride of man’s heart. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot regenerate ourselves. In the heavenly courts there will be no song sung, To me that loved myself, and washed myself, redeemed myself, unto me be glory and honor, blessing and praise. But this is the keynote of the song that is sung by many here in this world. They do not know what it means to be meek and lowly in heart; and they do not mean to know this, if they can avoid it. The whole gospel is comprised in learning of Christ, His meekness and lowliness.
“What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 456.
My friend, I do not know who may read this, but I know there is someone who needs a word of encouragement. I want to tell you that Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible to the one that believes,”—to the one who makes the commitment.
The father answered, “Lord, I believe. You help my unbelief.”
The messenger to the remnant church says, “You can never perish if you will pray that prayer.” (See The Ministry of Healing, 65, 66.) Are you willing to pray that prayer right now?
[Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]
Pastor Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life Ministry and pastor of the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.