I'm working on a devotional-commentary type thing for my high school students. We have spent the past year looking at the Gospel of Mark; so it's on Mark. Below's a sample, your comments are welcome and needed.
The disciples hadn’t faced challenges like this before—an evil spirit that didn’t respond to their exorcism [read: for more on the disciples’ ministry experiences check out Mark 6:7, and 30]. I imagine they wondered what in the Hell was going on, literally. They’d done this kind of thing before; Jesus commissioned them to do this kind of stuff. Shouldn’t it get easier as time goes on? Isn’t this the natural way for things to go… easier with time? Oddly enough, this is anything but the truth for the Disciples. The initial excitement splinters in the face of the cross's reality. The longer they follow Jesus the closer they get to the cross, the disciples most challenging experience in their life of following Jesus.
It’s not just the disciples who are confused. There’s a father of a demon-possessed boy whose a big swirling mixture of confusion, stress, and belief. When Jesus talks to him he tells the man, “Everything is possible for one who believes.” [think: Jesus is telling the man to believe in him, Jesus—not in the miracle. Another way of saying it is “If you believe in Jesus anything can happen.”]. The man replies, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”
The disciples are confused. The man is a belief and emotions are being tugged either way. The drama is high. [What do you act like in tough situations? Is it tough to believe?]
A really sharp dude named John Calvin once wrote, “The prayers of believers do not always flow on the with uninterrupted progress to the end … but, on the contrary, are involved and confused, and either oppose each other, or stop in the middle of the course, like a vessel tossed by tempests, which, though it advances towards the harbor, cannot always keep a straight course, as in a calm sea.” He knew that in tough situations, when the storms are brewing and we’re lost in the winds of confusion, our prayer and belief fluctuates and is tested. The good news of this story, the story of your life, is that Jesus is trustworthy—even when life is not.
This section of scripture concludes with Jesus healing the boy, and with the disciples learning more about doing ministry to the hurting and the possessed. What we learn (again) is that while we have a storms Jesus calms them. What we learn is that while our faith fluctuates Christ’s faithfulness to us doesn’t. That’s good news!
Journal about some situations that you’ve doubted or had a hard time believing… ask God to show you how he was faithful… even when you doubted.