The day after his transfiguration, Jesus and his disciples find themselves in a great crowd of people. Though surrounded by noise, Jesus hears a cry for help: “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son” (v. 38). When we see the situation, we understand this father’s plea. His son’s life is out of control and he doesn’t know what to do. Even the disciples are powerless to help him.
Watching someone you love suffer is painful. When I read this passage, I recall the sadness I experienced as my brother struggled with alcoholism. Seeing him slowly spiral into self-destruction was heartbreaking. In my helplessness, I cried out to God, pleading for assistance.
Scripture describes the son’s ailment as the work of a demon. While we may use other terms for our twenty-first-century dilemmas, this word communicates the pain that this family is going through. I am a retired pastor, but my ordination certificate doesn’t exempt me from wrestling with the demons of indifference, prejudice, selfishness, an unbridled tongue, and the desire to control others. I’ve never struggled with alcoholism, but I have a control addiction.
We do not know how long the son suffered with his affliction or the exact nature of his condition. However, we do know that Jesus hears the father’s plea for help. Jesus heals the son and exorcises the demon. I love the phrase Luke uses to summarize this healing: Jesus gave him back to his father (v. 42). I know what that feels like! Six months before my brother’s death, he stopped drinking. It was a day of great joy for me and my family because on that day, we got our brother back.
When have you felt that your life was out of control? How does God help us heal in such circumstances?
Compassionate God, heal me from the chaos I’m spiraling toward so that I can again become the person you created me to be. Amen.