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“So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boy’s father, ‘How long has he been like this?’ ‘From childhood,’ he answered. ‘It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.’ ‘If you can?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for one who believes.’”—Mark 9:20–23 (NIV)
There’s an inseparable and vital link between faith, the heart, possibility, and God’s will that needs to be understood. Why? Because when it’s not properly understood, it can be utterly misinterpreted, perverted, and abused. Which brings us to today’s passage . . .
In context, Jesus has been dropped squarely into a tense situation and argument. The involved parties? Jesus’ disciples, religious leaders (who were really there to just agitate and provoke, not help), a large crowd, and a desperate dad.
The dad tells Jesus he brought his demon-possessed son to the disciples for healing, but they couldn’t drive it out. So, Jesus directs them to bring the boy to Him, which immediately exacerbates the situation as the demon catches a glimpse of the Holy One. And then, showing his despair, the dad says, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
Now, let me point out that this is one of the rare moments (Mark 8:12 is another) where Jesus is visibly frustrated with the people involved. He says, “You unbelieving generation. . . how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?” (Mark 9:19 NIV). And then, with a twinge of sadness, He responds to the dad, “If you can?”
The problem in both cases is faith. And so, Jesus says, “Everything is possible for one who believes.” This verse, and others like it, have unfortunately been abused by health and wealth false teachers and the like. It’s where the link between faith, the heart, possibility, and God’s will come into play.
You see, “Everything is possible for one who believes” doesn’t mean we can get whatever we want by believing—it doesn’t mean God will bend to our will because we have faith and make “declarations of faith.” Far from it! It means for the one who has faith in God, who trusts in Him and His plans, the possibilities are endless, and God can move and work in ways beyond our wildest dreams. But unbelief—the absence of faith—prevents us from seeing and experiencing the work of God (Mark 6:5).
Faith is a necessary component for God’s work in and around us. However, it doesn’t mean everything we want will come to pass. That’s where the heart and prayer (spoiler: Mark 9:28–29) come in. 1 John 5:14 (NIV) says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
Through prayer and devotion, by faith, our will is bent to His, our hearts are recalibrated to long after what He has purposed and prepared for us, so “everything” is no longer everything as our sinful mind perceives it. Instead, it’s everything according to the perfect will of God for those who believe!
Pause: What is the link between faith and God’s will? Why is it important you keep this in proper perspective both when you read the Word and in your everyday life?
Practice: Make it a habit to pray according to His will, to ask for His will to be done, and to surrender your will to His!
Pray: Father, I pray for Your will to be done in, through, and around me. I pray for my will to be fully surrendered to Yours. I pray for an increased measure of faith to see Your will accomplished in my life. Amen.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.