“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
During the 1970s and 80s, a popular publication for those in the industry was “In Search of Excellence” by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr. I liked this title because it didn’t demand that I actually attain excellence but continue to strive towards it. What a relief! Not only was I relieved of expecting excellence within myself, but I was relieved that others would not be expecting excellence from me. It is about the journey, the striving, the search.
There are many times in our lives that we have failed to meet the expectations of others. We are also at fault when we have expectations of others that they may not be able to meet. I recall on one occasion someone saying to me, “I didn’t fail you — I failed your expectations”. Was I wrong to place my expectations on another?
Our humanity and imperfections result in us regularly failing to meet the expectations of others and ourselves.
In our text today, Jesus sets out his expectations regarding our faith. He doesn’t expect perfection in us. The text tells us that upon hearing the father’s statement of faith (and doubt), Jesus immediately healed the boy. Jesus didn’t rebuke the father for his doubt. Instead, he rebuked the demons in the boy so that they left him.
Faith grows in us as we live under that grace, be open to the Holy Spirit serving us through the word and sacraments, and demonstrate God’s love for us through others. Faith is the gift of the Holy Spirit, and our trust is in his providing sufficient for our needs, not to meet our expectations.
We are made perfect in God’s eyes only through Jesus’ own life, death and resurrection. Through Jesus’ perfection, we can be assured when he makes a promise, we can trust it and know such expectations will be met.
Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that you send your Holy Spirit to lead me closer to you and trust in your promise of salvation through your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.