The thrill of victory…and the agony of defeat…
Back in the 60’s and 70’s sports journalist Jim McKay made these words famous as the opening line of ABC’s Wide World of Sports. McKay’s unique voice intoned this lead-in as a montage of the past week’s sports highlights flashed on our small black & white TV screens. True to his word McKay presented athletes at their best, performing seemingly impossible feats to bring victory to their teams. He also exposed the bumbles and the fumbles, the almosts, the visible agony of falling short.
McKay’s words are an apt description of our XMA team’s recent return to Central Asia. Had ABC’s TV cameras been closely following us we would have film clips of tremendous victories God is working among the unreached Muslim people. We would see the faithfulness of our national partners (whom XMA has been partnering with for more than 10 years) as they slowly but steadily reach more and more of their country for Christ. The house churches that have been planted and are now serving their communities. The schools where children can now receive an education. The water wells now providing much needed clean water.
Those old cameras would have captured the thrill of God’s victory as our XMA team conducted nine ReVitalEyes vision care clinics providing 308 people with eye glasses, led discipleship groups, and shared Bible stories.
Unfortunately, the film clips of our trip would also show the agony of defeat, the despair of our team when we were unable to help some people. I wonder what caustic comment McKay would have had as he watched the ineffectiveness of our prayers for the middle aged lady, crippled by arthritis and other maladies, helplessly lying on the dirt floor of her home. As I sat in the dirt at the feet of this dear lady so desperately wanting God to heal her the Spirit brought to mind the boy whom Jesus’ original disciples could not heal. I heard Jesus’ biting words, “You faithless and perverse generation… How much longer must I put up with you?” My soul cried out in agony and need, “I do believe! Help my unbelief.”
Like old Wide World of Sports reruns set on repeat the video of this scene is still haunting my mind a week later. Just as the disciples I’ve come to Jesus privately asking, “Why could we not cast it out?” With the harshness of the moment now gone from his voice he tenderly replies, “Because of your little faith.” Then he adds, “This kind can come out only through prayer.”
O, my Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief.