February 24, 2020 (Monday) - Discs and Dots - A Reflection on Mark 9:14-29

When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.” He answered them, “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!” 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 was able to stand. When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “This kind can come out only through prayer.”

Many years ago, in the course of a prayer meeting, I felt led to place my hand on a girl’s head. I was stunned by what followed. With a loud shriek, she threw herself to the ground and began writhing like a snake, and if that wasn’t alarming enough, she began thumping her head to the floor so hard I thought she would break either the tiles or her head (or both). It took four strong men to restrain her. 

Since this was my first experience of such a thing, I didn’t have a clue what I was supposed to do, so I just led the others in a simple prayer that Jesus take control of the situation and do whatever was necessary. In a few minutes, just as she was beginning to subside, another girl started to groan and writhe. Most of the people in the room made a quick exit (I don’t blame them; it was quite disturbing to watch) but those who remained continued to pray until there was calm again.

I wasn’t afraid, but I remember getting angry at whatever was causing this, and in the years that followed, this anger has increased as I have come across thousands of people who have suffered in similar fashion. Most of these people are from countries where there is a lot of pagan worship or occult practices, but surprisingly also in countries where the faith appears to be strong. Lebanon is one such country that immediately comes to mind. 

I have been there several times and it felt like almost every other person was facing some form of spiritual oppression or another. I wondered why, when my attention was drawn to blue circular discs that seemed to be everywhere. They hung in cars, were affixed on doorways, pinned on newborn babies, even work as jewelry pieces. Ostensibly used to ward off the evil eye — a type of curse brought on by those who were envious — I realized these actually served to have the opposite effect. 

Why? Because it meant people were placing their trust in an object rather than on the living God. It is the main reason (for those who wondered) why a lot of the New Age and Zodiac based practices are strongly discouraged. By engaging in these practices we are essentially saying that these are more powerful than God to protect us. A blue disc (or a black dot) is gonna protect you from evil? Really? Let us please take heed of Jesus’ words to his apostles that I have quoted many, many times: 

“I have given YOU authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you” (Luke 10:19). Believe in his word and live without fear. Say Amen!