November 1, 2016 • Life for Leaders
“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
When Jesus and his companions came down from the mountain where Jesus had been transfigured, they encountered a large crowd. At the center were the rest of Jesus’s disciples, who were arguing with some Jewish scholars. Jesus asked why they were arguing. A man spoke up, explaining that he had brought his demonized son to the disciples so he might be set free, but the disciples were not able to cast out the evil spirit. To this Jesus responded, “You unbelieving generation, . . . how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me” (9:19).
As I read these words of Jesus, I shudder inside. I can just imagine Jesus saying about me, “Mark, you unbelieving disciple. How long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?” You see, there are times when I doubt the Lord; times when I fail to trust him even though he’s been so utterly trustworthy throughout my whole life. I wonder if Jesus feels exasperated with me, much as he did with his first disciples.
Yet, and this is the good news in today’s devotion, Jesus answers his own question later on. In the end of the Gospel of Matthew, after Jesus was raised from the dead, he says to his disciples, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt 28:20). How long will the risen Christ stay with us? Always! How long will he put up with us? Always!
But, I don’t want this comforting truth to let me off the hook entirely. I don’t want to excuse my unbelief because of the Lord’s unending patience. Rather, I pray for greater faith and greater faithfulness. I pray for the ability to trust the Lord completely with my health, my work, my family, my financial wellbeing, my country, and my future. I ask, in particular, for the ability to trust Jesus more with those things that worry me, with the things I want to control but really can’t. May God grant me – and you – deeper and more abiding faith.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Do you think the Lord ever gets exasperated with you? Why or why not?
When is it hard for you to trust the Lord? Why is it hard in these contexts?
What helps you to trust God more?
Gracious God, I don’t know if you ever speak of me as Jesus spoke of his disciples in Mark 9:19, but if you do, I certainly understand. There are so many times when my faith lags behind, when I seem to forget your great faithfulness in my life. Forgive me, Lord.
Help me, I pray, to trust you more. Help me to trust you with those things that can cause me most to worry and doubt: my health, my work, my family, my financial wellbeing, my country, and my future. As I remember your faithfulness to me, may I be filled with trust, gratitude, and peace.
Thank you, dear Lord, for being utterly faithful always. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: Go and Make Disciples (Matthew 28:16-20)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.