In Matthew 17, the account of the father whose son had seizures that threw him into fire or water elicits compassion in the hearts of any of us who know individuals suffering similarly. What was labeled demonic activity then, has a variety of medical diagnoses and descriptions today. Even so, the message of this passage is not about the source of the seizures, but that Jesus’ disciples tried and failed to help the boy.
When the father comes to Jesus, Jesus responds with: “17 You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” That has always seemed a little harsh to me – the disciples were trying. But, what is Jesus really saying?
While the term “unbelieving” obviously means having no faith, the word, “perverse,” aides in further describing Jesus’ frustration. “Perverse” is defined as “showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable, often in spite of the consequences.”
How many of us would confess (privately, of course) that we have, or have had faith issues? Most of us can exhibit faith in certain areas, while failing miserably in others – often simultaneously. IE: I believe that Jesus is my Savior, and I will be with Him throughout eternity, but I don’t believe He cares enough about my finances to provide, without me helping Him. In this case, I am telling the King of Kings what I want, how much I need, and what is an acceptable means of procuring the resource within my timeframe. Insisting and acting upon my way practically eliminates God’s way (Jesus, The Way) from the equation. My perverse course of action was prompted by unbelief.
Those of us who tend to be analytical, would love to figure out how faith works – along with how to make faith work. Unfortunately, that process negates faith at the outset, as I am using human reasoning and effort to achieve what scripture describes differently: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1 KJV) Most of us know things because we experience them or physically touch them. Sometimes, we can believe based upon other peoples’ experiences. With scripture, we are challenged to believe all of it with the same voracity that we believe part of it. Most of us can climb the faith rock and even stand for periods of time, only to eventually slide off through doubt, or get knocked off by fear. It would appear that we are the unbelieving and perverse generation. (Oh, my . . . )
Lord Jesus, I DO believe. Please help me with my unbelief! Please transform my reality so that You become the central figure and larger than life. After all, YOU are The Way, The Truth, and The Life. (Mark 9:24, John 14:6)