Kris Kristofferson: Why Me Lord?

Taken from  Confessions Of A Bad Christian  which is located   HERE.

Why me Lord? I suspect that most of us have cried out to God with that question. And I would also guess that ninety-nine percent of the time we are asking God why some trial or affliction has come our way that we feel is undeserved.

The same question has been asked throughout history. “Why me Lord? Why me?”

A song by Kris Kristofferson cycled up on the iPod today and reminded me of a better perspective. I have loved Kristofferson’s song “Why Me?” since I was a young believer and, if you do the math, you realize that I am not so young a believer anymore. The truth is I am still trying to apply the wisdom of these lyrics.

Why me Lord, what have I ever done
To deserve even one
Of the pleasures I’ve known
Tell me Lord, what did I ever done
That was worth loving you
Or the kindness you’ve shown

So true. What have I done to deserve even one of His blessings? I did not deserve forgiveness. That was a gift of grace from a loving God. I did not deserve to be born in the United States into incredible comfort, religious freedom and opportunity. I did not deserve to be born healthy and semi-intelligent when others live with chronic affliction and mental illness. Those things were blessings that I received without complaining to my Creator.

The why me Lord question we so often ask should have an entirely different focus.

Why me Lord? What have I done to deserve your blessing?

It is true that some seem to suffer a disproportionate amount of affliction and difficulty. It doesn’t seem fair. The theology that faithful Christians will experience nonstop prosperity, perfect health and green lights at every intersection is a lie from the pit of Hell. Suffering is a part of the process that God uses to refine our faith and ultimately to glorify Him.

My high school basketball coach was a winner and a great teacher. I remember Coach Tom Cuppett yelling at me. A lot. It seemed I could never do anything right. We would run a play and the whistle would blow. “Burchett….what are you doing?” Then he would grab me and the other forwards and walk us through what was supposed to happen. After my senior season Coach Cuppett called me in to his office.

“I have to let you in on something. Remember how I always yelled at you and walked you through the plays?” He asked.
I responded with a smile. “Pretty hard to forget that you can’t do anything right.”
“The truth is that most of the time it was Jimmy (not real name) who messed up and not you. He couldn’t take the criticism and you could. So I yelled at you and then grabbed him and walked him through the plays with you so he would learn without losing his confidence.”
“It would have been nice to know why I was the target so often.”
“I couldn’t tell you at the time. But I trusted you to keep going. And you did. Your ability to handle adversity made him and our team better.”

The lesson never left. I trusted a good coach and accepted what I had to endure to achieve our goal of winning. Later I found out that I had gained honor is his eyes by trusting him even when things didn’t seem “fair”. How much more so can I trust a God who loved me enough to offer grace when I was completely without merit? What if that trial is given to me because God deems me able to remain steadfast and through that faithfulness He will be glorified? What if I get called into God’s office someday and find out that He gave me the gift of trials to reflect His glory and now my rewards will far exceed that temporary pain? If I can trust an earthly coach then I can certainly trust my Heavenly Father with all of me.

Kristofferson writes about what many of us regret.

Lord help me Jesus, I’ve wasted it so
Help me Jesus I know what I am
Now that I know that I’ve need you so
Help me Jesus, my soul’s in your hand

That is the amazing thing about our God of redemption and second chances. It is never too late to start trusting and living in His grace. It starts with believing your real identity. Henri Nouwen says it well.

“You can deal with an enormous amount of success as well as an enormous amount of failure without losing your identity, because your identity is that you are the beloved. Long before your father and mother, your brothers and sisters, your teachers, your church, or any people touched you in a loving as well as in a wounding way-long before you were rejected by some person or praised by somebody else-that voice has been there always. “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” That love is there before you were born and will be there after you die.”

Paul wrote this to the Church at Ephesus.

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.  (Ephesians 1, NLT)

Believing that makes it possible to ask “why me” in a very different way.

Discipling An Aspie (Asperger’s Syndrome)

Taken from theology for women  which is located   HERE.

I read an article recently that discussed ministering to those with Asperger’s Syndrome.

“The name comes from a pediatrician in Vienna, Hans Asperger, who in the 1940’s discovered that certain children have a unique set of character traits.  He began to study them, and he noticed they had some of the following characteristics in common:

-they tend to have a low EQ, meaning they lack certain social skills
-they prefer to be alone
-they are very intelligent (“little professors” he called them)
-they see things in black and white, meaning they take things very literally
-they do not easily process information
-they miss subtleties, do not easily intuit
-they are very sensitive to sounds, textures
-they have an odd sense of humor—quirky fits here
-they do not easily read faces, tend to avoid eye contact
-they are not so sensitive to feelings—they do not easily empathize
-they can melt down if given too many tasks at once

I immediately thought of my son, who is distinctly different from his brother and most of his preschool and elementary school peers in how he processes information. My son is not on the most extreme end of the Asperger’s Spectrum, yet, he’s there. I read these attributes to my husband as well, and we laughed. It explains a lot in our family.

My husband is by far my best resource in parenting my little Aspie because my little guy is in many ways just a smaller version of my big guy. The big thing we’ve talked about is accepting simply that he processes things differently than many other kids. And different is not bad.

Different: unusual, not common, not in step with the norm

Bad: of poor or inferior quality; defective; deficient; inadequate or below standard; morally reprehensible

This has been a very important point for me to get. DIFFERENT is not the same as BAD. Unusual is not the same as defective or morally wrong. Because I have a very different personality than my son, I value the norm. If I walk into a room of people in a social situation, I try to assess what is already going on and join in or support it if I can. And that can be a good thing—maybe I’m being polite and empathetic. It can also be a bad thing—maybe I’m insecure and trying to please people. Maybe I am proud and want them to think well of me. When my son walks in a room and is oblivious of others, it’s not necessarily wrong, but it is very different from me.

Once I fortify myself against the “different is bad” mentality that others project onto me and that my own personality tempts me to believe, then I can deal with my son’s strengths and weaknesses at a healthy level. What are the strengths of his personality spiritually speaking? What are the weaknesses?

The strengths I have come to recognize easily enough. He isn’t easily pressured by his peers. I wouldn’t mind so much if he looked around his 1st grade classroom and tried to blend in a bit better. But I recognize that long term, this will serve him very well. He won’t be hogtied emotionally like I was by the way others look at him. His personality traits will protect him, at least somewhat, from the kind of negative peer pressure that debilitated me when I was in junior high and high school. If he thinks he should or should not do something, he won’t be easily persuaded by the opinion of others. That is an awesome gift, and I admire it greatly after having struggled with that myself.

But his personality comes with weaknesses too. He often lacks empathy. And he can lock in so hard on a project that people become meaningless to him. I can’t just TELL him to be considerate, because it’s not intuitive for him. I have to model it and truly, proactively disciple him in it. I can’t just tell him the Golden Rule. I have to explain it in detail and then help him evaluate specific situations again and again in light of it.

The places we are focusing right now are the Greatest Command and the Golden Rule. People are more important than projects. That doesn’t mean that projects aren’t good or that he shouldn’t have opportunity to focus on his projects. We give him a lot of room there. But when the rubber meets the road, people are more important than projects. Our first priority is loving God. Our second is to love our neighbor as ourself. Which leads very nicely into the Golden Rule – how do YOU want to be treated, son? Ok. Then love your brother and treat him the way you want him to treat you.

I have learned so much in this journey with my son, yet I still can get very discouraged. It helps me to think how far we’ve already come – to think back on our miserable first year of preschool. I had experienced enough playdates with friends in the first 2 years of my son’s life to know he wasn’t exactly developmentally on target. But when we hit preschool, it was starkly obvious. There were 12 kids in the classroom—eleven 2-3 year olds remarkably similar in their ability to interact with peers and grown ups and one, my son, who was very, very different. The teachers helped me much that first year, patiently modeling for him again and again how to interact with other kids and grown ups, how to understand their expressions and repair with them when he had hurt them. And patiently modeling for ME how to redirect him and help him build the social skills that came normally for other kids but which he could not intuit for himself. They pointed me toward speech therapy, where a therapist modeled for me how to help him make eye contact and take turns in communication. In the five years since then, he and I have both come a long, long way.

It’s hard to water seeds and wait for fruit with our children, and it’s certainly hard when discipling a child with aspie tendencies. The exhortations in Scripture to persevere and endure are precious to me in this journey. Stay engaged. Repeat instruction as necessary. And never give up. Different is not bad, and it’s OK that I have to teach this son things that come naturally to many other kids.

1 Corinthians 13:7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

James 1 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

William Fitzsimmons: From Mental Health to Music

I came across this article through NAMI and found it quite fascinating.  Read the story of a man who has battled mental illness, been a therapist, and now is a singer songwriter.  I’ve added a video to conclude the article.  This man’s talent is amazing!   Allan    P.S.  I ran this article initially in April of 2010 and because of constant interest I am running it again.

Singer-songwriter William Fitzsimmons now finds himself on the brink of underground neo-folk stardom after working as a mental health therapist. Fitzsimmons was born and raised in a Pittsburgh home filled with music by his parents, both blind. William’s childhood surroundings were vivid with sounds to replace what eyes could not see. The house teemed with pianos, guitars, trombones, talking birds, classical records, family sing-a-longs, bedtime stories and the bellowing of a pipe organ, built by his father.

For many years, music was merely a hobby for Fitzsimmons while he worked with individuals living with mental illness. Today, William’s vocation rests “somewhere between a singing therapist and a counselor who writes songs.” Media, fans and critics liken him to musicians such as Iron and Wine, Sufjan Stevens and Elliott Smith, but it’s safe to say that fans of Band of Horses, Amos Lee, Damien Rice and even Jason Mraz or David Gray would enjoy Fitzsimmons’ work. His songs have been featured on Grey’s Anatomy and Army Wives.

NAMI: You’ve said that music is a healing experience, but you’ve also said, “Music is music and it’s not supposed to be a panacea for people’s wounds.” This is a bit of a contradiction. Where would you take a stand on that if you had to?

WF: Music can be very healing. Some people approach music as a cure-all, whereas I tend to see healing as much more of holistic thing. There are some situations in which a song is a wonderful, curative thing. There are some situations in which a song is a wonderful, curative thing but people still need a friend, counseling or pharmacology. I’ve come across people who are so steeped in art they think it can cure. I think it’s good for unlocking problems but not necessarily curing them.

NAMI: What are you working on now?

I’m writing a record that’s a musical collection about the mental illnesses listed in the DSM IV. It should be out in the fall of 2010.

NAMI: Tell us about your background in mental health.

WF: I graduated with a B.A. in psychology and then worked as a mental health technician in the psychiatric ward at Cooper Hospital in Camden, N.J., to see if I wanted to stay in the field. After that, I went to graduate school at Geneva College for mental health counseling. I think people who have an interest in psychology are trying to figure something out about themselves, too—a little bit of self-discovery. I knew that I had some unfinished business. That very first class I took in psychology drew me in—I wanted to investigate illness. I am a consumer; I was diagnosed with OCD back in college, and I fall into that small 5 or 10 percent of anorexics that are men. I had an outbreak in high school and one since, and I have anxiety disorders.

NAMI: What are your views on mental health practices such as medication and involuntary treatment?

WF: I grew accustomed to medication in the ward, and the education I had was not opposed to medicines. I’m a fan, [laughs] can I put it that way?—when medicine is used responsibly and when a clinician takes the time to assess whether it’s going to be helpful for treatment.

As far as involuntary treatment is concerned, I have friends who worked in forced treatment. It’s sort of cliché, but I think that people can only really be helped if they’re ready. Obviously if people have really debilitating illnesses and they can’t take care of themselves, well, they can’t really consent to treatment if they’re not lucid. You’d like to think that there’s an involved family and community. One of the themes I’ve struggled with is change. Do people ever really change? Obviously they can. I don’t know. Autonomy is the highest possible goal if it can be achieved.

NAMI: Did you see a lot of co-occurring disorders?

WF: Yes, my experiences working in Pennsylvania and New Jersey showed they were present in both urban and rural settings. But the city had higher rates of substance abuse. We saw a very high rate of co-morbidity and self-medicating.

NAMI: You also said working with people who live with mental illness was “rewarding like nothing else.” Can you elaborate?

WF: I slept a little better when I was working in psychology because you feel like you’re making a more direct impact on people’s lives—nobody can tell you that you’re not working when you go to your job. Now that I write songs and sell records, it feels like I’m cheating a little bit. I try to inject them with a therapeutic quality so even if I’m not sitting one-on-one with a person, hopefully I’m giving them something.

NAMI: You said you’re not sure a person can ever really change; does that internal conflict come from the theme of history repeating itself that comes through on your records?

WF: Yeah, I think so. I’m projecting that issue I have with change onto everyone else, whether it’s due to some psychiatric problem I’ve had or not. Whenever you mess up, you question whether of not you’ve made any progress at all. I was trying to not end up like my dad.

NAMI: What are some milestones you experienced as a mental health professional?

The unfortunate part of inpatient treatment is that you see people at their worst—during the acute part of an illness—which is rough. But we were very pleased to see people pop in, clean and sober, to say “hi” and “thank you.” When you saw someone again, however, and they were making mistakes like stopping their medication, it was sad. There was one woman in particular that lived with borderline personality disorder, which I experienced as extremely resistant to change. She worked with one of our psychiatrists for years and made marked improvements. That was great to see.

NAMI: Will you return to that profession?

WF: Yeah. I don’t know in what way or when. I’m not really a coincidence guy so I don’t think I would have spent as much time and money on education as I did just to leave it behind forever.

NAMI: Did you see any common threads when treating people who live with mental illness?

WF: The people who get better always seemed to have some sort of hope.

William Fitzsimmons dedicated an unreleased remix of Goodmorning from his Sparrow and the Crow album exclusively to users at www.strengthofus.org, NAMI’s social networking site for youth and young adults. “Goodmorning” will be released on the upcoming remix EP Derivatives. To hear more of William’s music, or learn about his tour dates and for other information, visit www.williamfitzsimmons.com.

The Harp: Streams In The Desert, January 29th, 2012

“I am jealous over you with God’s own jealousy”   2 Corinthians 11:2   Weymouth

How an old harper dotes on his harp! How he fondles and caresses it, as a child resting on his bosom! His life is bound up in it. But, see him tuning it. He grasps it firmly, strikes a chord with a sharp, quick blow; and while it quivers as if in pain, he leans over intently to catch the first note that rises. The note, as he feared, is false and harsh. He strains the chord with the torturing thumb-screw; and though it seems ready to snap with the tension, he strikes it again, bending down to listen softly as before, till at length you see a smile on his face as the first true tone trembles upward.

So it may be that God is dealing with you. Loving you better than any harper loves his harp, He finds you a mass of jarring discords. He wrings your heartstrings with some torturing anguish; He bends over you tenderly, striking and listening; and, hearing only a harsh murmur, strikes you again, while His heart bleeds for you, anxiously waiting for that strain–“Not my will, but thine be done”–which is melody sweet to His ear as angels’ songs. Nor will He cease to strike until your chastened soul shall blend with all the pure and infinite harmonies of His own being. –Selected.

“Oh, the sweetness that dwells in a harp of many strings,
While each, all vocal with love in a tuneful harmony rings!
But, oh, the wail and the discord, when one and another is rent,
Tensionless, broken and lost, from the cherished instrument.

“For rapture of love is linked with the pain or fear of loss,
And the hand that takes the crown, must ache with many a cross;
Yet he who hath never a conflict, hath never a victor’s palm,
And only the toilers know the sweetness of rest and calm.

“Only between the storms can the Alpine traveller know
Transcendent glory of clearness, marvels of gleam and glow;
Had he the brightness unbroken of cloudless summer days,
This had been dimmed by the dust and the veil of a brooding haze.

“Who would dare the choice, neither or both to know,
The finest quiver of joy or the agony thrill of woe!
Never the exquisite pain, then never the exquisite bliss,
For the heart that is dull to that can never be strung to this.”

Praise & Worship: Vintage Maranatha Music, January 28th, 2012

I came to faith in April of 1976 as the result of a Saturday night concert at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa.  For the next two years this was our church home.  During a Sunday morning service we sang “Shepherd’s Song”  which impacted me profoundly.  This was music I was not familiar with and it stirred my spirit deeply.  That was my first experience with the songs from Maranatha Music.  I can’t tell you how often I listened to those praise albums and the cassettes I wore out which led me to buy them again!!  I suspect I’m not the only one from the mid 70’s and earlier whose life was impacted by this music.  If this music is new to you I hope you listen.  It’s worth it.  All of these songs are taken from the first three Maranatha praise albums. Allan

Song List

1.  Praise The Lord-  Maranatha Singers

2.  Love (One Another)-  Maranatha Singers

3.  Open Our Eyes-  Maranatha Singers

4.  Light Our Way-  Maranatha Singers

5.  Sing Hallelujah-  Maranatha Singers

6.  Shepherd’s Song-  Maranatha Singers

7.  His Name Is Jesus-  Maranatha Singers

8.  Lord Be Glorified-  Maranatha Singers

9.  Holy, Thou Art Holy-  Maranatha Singers

10.  My Peace-  Maranatha Singers

11.  Spirit Song-  Maranatha Singers

Family: Pup’s Death Attributed To Man’s “PTSD”

Phillip Shawn Rich (left) at his arraignment and Knight shown with another dog before the beating Source: Pup's Death Tied to Vet's "War Trauma": Family | NBC San Diego

Taken from  NBC San Diego  which is located    HERE.

A San Diego-area man charged with beating a puppy so badly it had to be euthanized is a veteran currently getting treatment for PTSD at the VA hospital, according to his defense attorney.

Phillip Shawn Rich, 26, of Crest, faces one felony charge of animal abuse for the death of his four-month-old male Siberian husky.

Rich brought the puppy, named Knight, to a veterinary hospital Saturday night. After the hospital staff examined the dog, they decided its injuries were so severe the animal had to be euthanized.

Hospital staff called in San Diego County Animal Services once they realized Rich’s explanation of the incident didn’t match the animal’s injuries.

On Wedneday, Rich pleaded not guilty in El Cajon Superior Court.

His attorney requested no bail, explaining that her client has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and is currently receiving treatment at the VA hospital.

The dog suffered head trauma and a collapsed lung and had both hind legs fractured, Deputy District Attorney Ryan Karkenny told the judge.

He added his office is actively investigating a second case of animal cruelty involving Rich but did not go into details at the arraignment.

The judge held Rich on $25,000 bail but ordered he receive treatment for PTSD while in custody.

Rich’s mother Cheryl Winget was visibly upset outside court.

“He’s not the monster that you guys are making him out to be,” Winget said.

Rich’s uncle Samuel Green said his nephew served two tours in Iraq and suffered a traumatic brain injury from an IED explosion.

“He changed markedly from the Phillip we knew before Iraq and after. He knew he had changed and he was concerned,” said Green.

While he said the family doesn’t diminish the crime committed, they do believe the beating was a product of war trauma.

“We know that all that we can do now is help Phillip. This is what ‘support our troops’ means. This is where ‘support our troops’ comes into play,” Green said.

Rich’s next court appearance will be Feb. 2 for a readiness hearing. He faces up to three years in state prison if convicted.

Help My Unbelief

Less than two weeks ago I wrote a spontaneous article born out of the trials I had been going through.  Although things are far from where I hope them to be this article I wrote in 2008 has put things in better perspective for me.  If you are weighed down with heavy burdens I pray this might somehow benefit you.  Allan- 2012  The article I referenced is found   HERE.

It seems when I read Scripture, stories like these cause me to immediately think about how they might relate to mental illness. In trying to do that in this article I hope I haven’t done harm to the text.  In the article I will refer to all three Gospel accounts of the same story.  Allan- 2008


Mark 9:14  And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them.
Mark 9:15  And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him.
Mark 9:16  And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?”
Mark9:17  And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute.
Mark 9:18  And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.”
Mark 9:19  And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.”
Mark 9:20  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.
Mark 9:21  And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood.
Mark 9:22  And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Mark 9:23  And Jesus said to him, “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.”
Mark 9:24  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
Mark 9:25  And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
Mark 9:26  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.”
Mark 9:27  But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.
Mark 9:28  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.”

Luke 9:37  And it happened on the next day, they coming down from the mountain, a huge crowd met Him.
Luke 9:38  And behold, a man cried aloud from the crowd, saying, Teacher, I beseech You, look on my son, for he is my only-born son.
Luke 9:39  And lo, a spirit takes him, and he suddenly cries out. And it throws him into convulsions, with foaming, and with pain departs from him, bruising him.
Luke 9:40  And I begged Your disciples to cast him out, and they could not.
Luke 9:41  And answering, Jesus said, O unbelieving generation, one having been perverted, how long shall I be with you and endure you? Bring your son here.
Luke 9:42  And as he was still coming, the demon violently convulsed and tore him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the child and delivered him again to his father.

Matthew 17:14  And when they came to the crowd, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying,
Matthew  17:15  Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and grievously vexed; for oftentimes he falls into the fire, and often into the water.
Matthew  17:17  Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him here to Me.
Matthew  17:18  And Jesus rebuked the demon, and he departed out of him. And the child was cured from that very hour.
Matthew  17:19  Then the disciples came to Jesus apart, and said, Why could we not cast him out?
Matthew  17:20  And Jesus said to them, Because of your unbelief. For truly I say to you, If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Move from here to there. And it shall move. And nothing shall be impossible to you.
Matthew 17:21  However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.

The above story, repeated three times, tells us of a father who brings his child to Jesus.  His son was possessed by a mute spirit that would cause the child to do things that would put fear in the heart of any parent.  It turns out that the disciples were not able to cast the demon from the boy and now the desperate father was asking Jesus to do what His disciples could not.

The story takes place immediately after Jesus, Peter, James, and John had come down from the Mount of Transfiguration where Jesus had been revealed in all of His glory.  No sooner had they come down from the mountain, they were greeted by a huge crowd, including disciples who had been arguing with the Scribes.  I imagine the Scribes were giving them the once over about this “character”  Jesus.  :)

That conversation ended immediately upon the crowd seeing Jesus and the three disciples.  The story then zeros in on the father and his encounter with Jesus.

He had brought his son hoping that the disciples would heal him.  I’m sure he must have heard of all the mighty miracles Jesus had done as well as those performed by the twelve disciples.  There is no indication the disciples here were of the twelve.

The father relates to Jesus that the disciples were not able to help his son and now he was counting on Jesus to do away with this foul spirit which Jesus proceeded to do.

As the disciples were later alone with Jesus they asked Him why they were not able to cast out the unclean spirit.  Jesus responded that it was due to their unbelief.  He then told them if they had faith like a mustard seed nothing would be impossible for them.  Keep in mind that a mustard seed is very small.

The father had presented to the disciples a son who had been afflicted for a long period of time.  The physical appearance of the son possibly shocked the disciples as the mute spirit had caused the child to do things that harmed him physically.  This may have intimidated the disciples and their prayers may have been impacted.

Despite the shortcomings of all involved Jesus rebuked the demon and commanded it to never return. The faith of the father was built up and the disciples learned a valuable lesson.  We also realize there were Scribes present who stubbornly refused to believe and Jesus soundly rebuked them for their unbelief.

Matthew 17:17  Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?

In reading these accounts I thought of myself and my journey with mental illness.  In the story I see the child as an innocent victim.  When I became sick I saw myself as an innocent victim.  Instead of going straight to Jesus the father went elsewhere.  Instead of going to Jesus I read books and tried to reason my way out of my affliction.  Jesus in no uncertain terms pointed out the lack of faith in the father and disciples.  Unbelief was the root of so much of my illness, to the point I gave up on God and relied on myself.  I did this all while being a “dutiful Christian.”

As I read more and more about mental illness and the stories of those whom I care for who have been afflicted it challenges my faith.  When I see those who love God suffer emotionally I relate to their pain and wonder why the Godly suffer.  Who hasn’t wrestled with that?  What I pray is that none of us will become like Solomon who declared all was vanity.  God doesn’t abandon us or leave us to a life of vanity.

John 14:15  If you love Me, keep My commandments.
John 14:16  And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, so that He may be with you forever,
John 14:17  the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see Him nor know Him. But you know Him, for He dwells with you and shall be in you.
John 14:18  I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you.

In the story the father cried out “I believe, help my unbelief “in response to Jesus saying all things are possible to Him who believes.  The father, in honest humility, stated the condition of his heart and Jesus responded.

Further, when the disciples asked why they couldn’t cast out the demon Jesus told them it was because of their unbelief.  But…..  He told them if they had faith like a mustard seed all things were possible to them.

This story shows me that although unbelief is nothing to be proud of God doesn’t smite us because of it.  He longs to fill us with His Spirit so that we might be able to stand against the attacks of the enemy as he continually seeks to bring us down.

1Peter 5:6  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
1Peter 5:7  casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
1Peter 5:8  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
1Peter 5:9  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

Praise God there is more than one lion on the scene!  He was also a lamb!  Go figure!!  :)

Nothing will EVER separate us from the Love of God.  EVER!!