Is it just me, or has the world gone mad? This past weekend more than half a dozen explosive devices were planted in and around the NY area in a concerted terror plot, and there are seemingly only two reasons it has not dominated our national attention. One is that no one was killed. The other is that it has quickly been eclipsed by two more police shootings and the ensuing chaos in the city of Charlotte in response to one of them. And somehow, all of this just feels like what has become a normal week in our national discussion in 2016.
As I reflect on these things, it occurs to me that I expect to be shocked and appalled by violence and chaos like this because for us in this country it has been the exception, not the rule. And yet for most people throughout most of history these things (and indeed much worse than these things) are par for the course in the best of weeks. I am reminded of what a previous pastor of mine told me, "There are two things we can never underestimate: the surpassing greatness of God and the bottomless pit of our sinfulness." What are we to do?
This is where I am reminded of Jesus statement to his 9 disciples who had been unable to cast out a demon from a desperate man's daughter in Mark 8. Jesus rebuked their lack of faith and said "This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer." (Mk. 8:29) The scene immediately follows Jesus' transfiguration, the manifestation of his glory as the Son of Man. Prayer is essential to the work of casting out the "this kinds" we see all around us. It is not an exercise in wishful thinking of a better world. It is a bold declaration that the gospel is the good news that God's surpassing goodness and glory has broken in to reverse the effects of human depravity. It is an authoritative summoning of the great and precious promises of God to rescue us from our fallenness and its effects. It is built on a faith, a supreme confidence that God will keep those promises to those who are bold enough to ask for them.
So in response to this week's "this kinds" I find myself driven to my knees not only because I recognize my inability to drive them out, but because I am confident that he who is in me is greater than he who is in the world and that if I operate out of faith in his ability, this kind can be driven out. May it be so!