“…And they brought the boy to him; and when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, ‘How long has he had this?’ And he said, ‘From childhood. And it has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘If you can! All things are possibleto him who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’ And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again.’ And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse; so that most of them said, ‘He is dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, ’Why could we not cast it out?’ And he said to them, ‘This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.’” (Mk 9: 20-29)
“This kind” is the kind that drives us to that which is clearly harmful to us, often casting us “into the fire and into the water,” – as do addictions and obsessions of various sorts. Ultimately, only two things can “drive out” this “kind”: 1. Prayer, i.e., reaching out to, and surrendering to, the help and power of One greater than ourselves, and 2. Fasting, i.e., complete abstinence from the thing or person or place to which we are addicted, or with which/whom we are obsessed, taking ourselves out of harm’s way and into the loving hands of God.
If I find myself in the grips of any obsession or addiction today, which has clearly begun to compel me to harm myself, despite my efforts to stop, let me start considering surrender; i.e., giving up my futile efforts to battle it on my own. Because I don’t have to. Even if I lack the faith, in this moment, that God can help me, or cares enough to help me, let me try making a small step toward His mercy, and away from the merciless “god” of my obsession. This morning I can cry out to a God Who knows all about our unbelief, and helps us anyway. “I believe, Lord; help my unbelief!” Help us, Lord, to help ourselves and others, suffering in the lonely hell of addiction today. Help us begin to be good to ourselves, as You are good to us. Amen!