The Word God Does Not Understand

Paul Davidson taught me to love words. Jesus is teaching me to believe them!

Davidson was the college professor our student body lovingly dubbed, “Brother D.” I knew him in his later years. His back was hunched and he walked with a stoop, long arms dangling at his sides. His physical features were unimpressive, but his character was striking. The term, "authentic leader" was not in vogue in the late 70's as it is today, but it fits him well. Brother D had been a missionary in Brazil for twenty-five years before entering academia. He had lived on a little. He had seen a lot. He was way past pretension.

The man was not shy about making a point. I can still see his diminutive, but commanding figure at the front of our class. In an aged voice that shook with conviction he would stand with arms held high and plead with us: “Fall in love with words brothers, fall in love with woooorrrrds!” as his passionate plea trailed off into a whispered prayer.

Brother D's admonition stuck. I still read with a dictionary. I do this because I have learned to love words and because many of them are difficult for me to understand. That is not the case with God. God understands everything. Right?

Actually, there is a word that even God does not understand. I found it in Mark's gospel. Mark recounts a time when a distressed and perplexed father brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus' disciples. Despite their best efforts the disciples were unable to drive out the evil spirit. The result? The father was frustrated, the disciples were frustrated, and Jesus was frustrated. Here is the account:

“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.”So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:19-24 NIV)

Do you ever find yourself like the father? Facing the seemingly impossible you plead, "Lord, if you can . . . ."

  • “If you can help my marriage . . . ”
  • “If you can solve this problem with my child . . .”
  • “If you can help me beat this temptation. . ."
  • "If you can meet my need . . ."
  • "If you can change me . . ."

I love Jesus' response. To the faltering father and the helpless disciples he says, “Where is your so-called impossible situation, bring the boy to me.”

Do we ever stop to think that Jesus implores us in the same way today?

  • “Bring the broken marriage to me.” 
  • “Bring the bad habit to me.”
  • “Bring the big problem to me.” 
  • “Bring the fears to me.” 
  • “Bring the doubts and worries to me.”

I can hear him say, "You call this 'Impossible?' I don’t know that word!"