IN SEARCH OF HEALING
READ: Mark 9:14-29
“…I asked Your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” Mark 9:18b (NIV)
The beginning of school faculty meeting was drawing to a close and I eagerly awaited its culmination as I wanted to get back to my classroom to prepare for my very first class. The final announcement really didn’t seem to be pertinent to me, it merely indicated that during our afternoon classroom work session, the school nurse would be visiting those classrooms that would be having “special needs’ children.
Little did I appreciate the potential importance of this brief message for me, a neophyte teacher.
However, my hanging a banner welcoming my incoming class was interrupted by the appearance of the school nurse and an older woman. This was my first meeting with Bobby’s mother and one that is engraved on my memory even over forty years later. After the introductions were made, Mrs. S. told me that her son was an epileptic and subject to mild to moderate seizures. She elaborated in considerable detail that she and her husband had searched for a cure which included consultation at the famed Mayo Clinic. They were informed that no cure existed but the prescribed medication would control seizures to some degree. She finished off her account by describing in detail the treatments that I might need to administer in case a seizure should occur while Bobby was in my classroom. Needless to say, the prospective joy of teaching of my first year was considerably dissipated and inwardly with trepidation , I pondered whether I had really chosen the right vocation.
I didn’t really know what I expected Bobbie S. to look like. I closely examined each of the children as they entered my classroom that first day but I could not identify my potential challenge. As I called the role and assigned seating, I was pleased to discover that Bobby was just an average boy with an infectious smile.
All went well the first day but on the second Bobby suddenly turned rigid except for his arms which seemed to beat a staccato pattern on his desk top. I quickly walked back to his desk and removed a pencil from his hand so he didn’t harm himself. As quickly as his seizure began it diminished and he seemed to awaken with no real consciousness of its happening. This scene was repeated numerous times during our time together and only once did I have to prevent him from swallowing his tongue. Amazingly, the other children in the class did not become upset by Bobby’s actions and as the year went on neither did I.
My experience with Bobby although his seizures were controlled by medication resulted in my becoming acutely sensitive to the account reported in the Gospel of Mark, concerning a father seeking a cure for his son. I vividly recalled Mrs. S. relating their search for “healing” and their resulting frustrations in finding that no cure was available. Their anxiety was no doubt mirrored by the father whose son’s seizures were even more acute than Bobby’s and no medication existed at that time to ameliorate them. How desperate must have been his plight!
One can surmise that the father had previously approached the leaders in the synagogue to affect the healing as they were in attendance when the disciples made their unsuccessful attempt to cure his son. Our Lord seemed puzzled by the verbal exchanges between the groups and inquired as to its cause. The anxious father declared that the disciples were unable to facilitate the cure and added “…Oh have mercy on us and do something, if you can.” “If you can? Anything is possible if you have faith”. The father instantly replied, “I do have faith; oh, help me to have more!” ( Mark 9:22b-24, Living Bible)
We all know the rest of the story, the miraculous cure of the boy but we are left to ponder whether the father’s faith increased and was he “healed” as well as his son?