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Peace in the Valley of Doubt

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Peace in the Valley of Doubt

Mark 9:14-32                September 12, 2004


Scripture Reading:

          North Side – Mark 9:2-10

          South Side – John 20:24-29

(The transfiguration vs. Thomas – Rabbi vs. Lord)

(Deliverance from doubt liberates us)


ILLUS: “Graffiti artist took risks to leave mark on a wall” Chgo. Trib., 9/8/04

          Doubt can limit people from achieving true usefulness.

ILLUS: “Ticket to a synagogue? It’s a season fact of life” Chgo. Trib., 9/704

          Doubt can hamstring the synagogue (in our case, the church) into a social club ineffective for any spiritual good.

Deliverance from doubt can liberate a life – it can liberate a church.

What are your doubts? How have they limited your life?

EXAMPLES: --------------

The opposite of doubt is faith. How could faith in your particular area of doubt liberate you?

The minefield in the valley between doubt and faith is a no man’s land of treachery and deceit that leaves us conflicted in despair.

The resolution of that doubt brings peace.

This message is about an event right after the Transfiguration in the life and ministry of Jesus in the gospel of Mark, chapter 9, verses 14-32, about how we can find peace in the valley of doubt.

Big Question:

How can we find peace in the valley of doubt?

I.       Cycle One

          A.      Narrative (vv. 14-19)

When God is at his best, Satan is at his worst.

“And he answering him, said, ‘O generation unbelieving, till when shall I be with you? till when shall I suffer (bear with) you? bring him unto me;’” (Mr 9:19 YLT)

Jesus expresses in a complaint “the loneliness and the anguish of the one authentic believer in a world which expresses only unbelief.” His lament also expresses urgency.

          B.      Implication

You can find peace in the valley of doubt by starting again with Jesus.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

II.      Cycle Two

          A.      Narrative (vv. 20-23)

We see the evil spirit defiantly exert its power when it comes into Jesus’ presence.

Jesus does not dialogue with the spirit that possesses the boy but instead directs questions to the distraught father.

At the heart of this exorcism is the struggle for faith, not the struggle with a demon.

This very visible struggle again renewed causes the father to be overwhelmed with doubt. Can Jesus truly accomplish this feat of deliverance?

Jesus asserts that his capability is not an issue here.

His affirmation that “everything is possible for him who believes” does not mean that faith can accomplish anything but that those who have faith “will set no limits to the power of God.”

The faith of both the miracle worker and the petitioner will lead to success.

          B.      Implication

You can find peace in the valley of doubt by realizing again that all things are truly possible by faith in Jesus.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

Aggressive faith has been a characteristic of all those who beseech him for healing in the Gospel:

“A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean." Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: "See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them." Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.” (Mr 1:40-45 NivUS)

 “A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, "Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, "Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…"He said to the paralytic,” (Mr 2:1-10 NivUS)

 “When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live." So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?" "You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’" But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead," they said. "Why bother the teacher any more?" Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, "Don’t be afraid; just believe." He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, "Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep." But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, <"Talitha koum!"> (which means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!"). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.” (Mr 5:21-43 NivUS)

 “Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. "First let the children eat all they want," he told her, "for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs." "Yes, Lord," she replied, "but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs." Then he told her, "For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter." She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.” (Mr 7:24-30 NivUS)

 “Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called to the blind man, "Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you." Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. "What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him. The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see." "Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.” (Mr 10:46-52 NivUS)

III.    Cycle Three

          A.      Narrative (vv. 24-29)

Unlike the people of Nazareth, who refuse to believe, the father’s unbelief is repentant. He is unable to believe but is desperate enough to ask for a miracle and for a faith that expects the impossible. He pleads for help just as he is, a doubter.

          B.      Implication

You can find peace in the valley of doubt by rising again from death by asking Jesus for faith.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

Our resurrection from doubt is like a resurrection from death. It is a new life.

After witnessing all this, the disciples, privately for fear of a repeat humiliation in their lack of faith, ask where they went wrong (we – indicating the longing to rely on their own professional skill and power).

Since Jesus did not offer up a prayer to exorcise the unclean spirit, the prayer that he has in mind is not some magical invocation but a close and enduring relationship with God.

We cannot accomplish the impossible in our own power. Only a life governed by faith and prayer can repel the threat from the evil spirits – a complete dependence upon God.

All this reveals how feeble the disciples are when they are on their own.

The struggle of both the father and the disciples for faith helps to clarify the nature of faith as well as to reveal much about our human predicament – it began in the Garden.

IV.    Cycle Four


          A.      Narrative (vv. 30-32)

          B.      Implication

You can find peace in the valley of doubt by understanding that deliverance from doubt is an ongoing process in this life.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

D. L. Moody said there are three kinds of faith:

          Struggling faith – a man in deep water

          Clinging faith – a man hanging on the side of the boat

          Resting faith – a man in the boat helping others get in

Many, like the father have a struggling faith.

Many, experience all three kinds an move back and forth between them.

One may have resting faith until life’s storms threaten the boat.

Faith requires humble trust.

Faith comes as a gift sustained by the power of Jesus.

Faith and prayer make a powerful combination to change human reality.


Has continuing and recurring doubt crippled your spiritual life? Has some spiritual or personal or family problem embedded itself like a parasitic worm in your gut? Have you found yourself conflicted in the valley of despair too often? The Bible tells us that “everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). Have you doubted the power of Christ? Is repentance in order for you?

Larry Crabb says, “It’s pride that keeps us from going all the way into brokenness, stopping at the level of despair rather that getting to the bottom where we find not despair but hope. I think brokenness is one of the most joyful realities in the Christian life. It lets you discover that the rope holds (when you are hanging over the cliff). The rope is God. The demand for a system that can be managed is probably at the core of what it means to be unbroken. There are lots of things that can be managed, but at the deepest level of spiritual growth, I don’t think it (spiritual growth) can be managed.”

Are you frantically trying to put into place the next system that will make it all come together for you? C.S. Lewis said, “Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first and we lose both first and second things.”

“Our first thing is union with God,” says Crabb (giving credit to John Piper), “the enjoyment of God as my supreme treasure. So the first place question is What does it mean in the middle of this heartbreak for me to draw closer to the Lord for his pleasure?

Crabb continues, “Brokenness is not about ‘vulnerability,’ a term that comes out of the therapeutic culture. The assumption is that if you’re open about your pain, that’s the essence of healing. I don’t agree with that. ‘Authenticity’ is a much better word. Authenticity says, Here’s where I am in my journey to knowing God better, as opposed to vulnerability, which is Here’s where I am hurting most. Vulnerability can be narcissistic.”

Authenticity is progressive reality in the power of God in overcoming doubt.

Big Answer:

How can we find peace in the valley of doubt?

The short answer is we find peace in the confidence of Christ to overcome our doubt.

You can find peace in the valley of doubt by starting again with Jesus.

You can find peace in the valley of doubt by realizing again that all things are truly possible by faith in Jesus.

You can find peace in the valley of doubt by rising again from death by asking Jesus for faith.

You can find peace in the valley of doubt by understanding that deliverance from doubt is an ongoing process in this life.

Timeless Truth:

There is nothing we need that Christ cannot do – if we just believe.

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