May 28, 2019
“For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet” (Mark 5:4, NIV 1984).
I am trying again to memorize the book of Mark for no other reason than God asked me to do it. The beginning of chapter 5 drove my memory back to one Sunday afternoon, walking through the streets of the small Nigerian village of Sanubi, after we had attended church services. As we approached a concrete block house set off from the others, we came upon a young man, clearly mentally ill, sitting in the dirt with his feet locked by chains. He was talking delusionally, and it was not clear to me whether his chains were there to protect others or to protect him from himself.
I suspect that, even today, real spiritual creatures exist that may possess us. I have little doubt that such demons continue to work their evil, just as they did centuries ago. Many of us also know those whom in biblical times might have been accused of being possessed by demons, but whose “possession” we now describe with modern scientific diagnoses, such as “schizophrenia” or “epilepsy.” Even with such modern names, these maladies are no less “demons” for those who suffer from them.
Whatever the cause, some “possessions” can be overwhelming and destructive:
- My daughter’s first husband was possessed by a drug addiction that left its mark with bruises my daughter tried to hide.
- We all know patients, or family, or friends who are possessed by past regrets that destroy their lives like a hidden malignancy.
- Some of our colleagues are so possessed by the business of medicine that their money has overcome their mission for patients.
- Two of my high school friends were so possessed by child pornography that they each have spent years in prison.
- The son of a friend, possessed by mental illness, once held my friend down and gouged out his eyes.
- We all know politician after politician possessed by power who have lied and destroyed others to hold on to that power.
Most of these possessed wish they could be free, but some remain unaware.
Demon possession is real, sometimes with actual spiritual beings and sometimes with demons we grow for ourselves.
Jesus has not changed since the book of Mark. Our demons may still throw us down to where we “grind our teeth” in frustration and become “rigid,” paralyzed by our inability to overcome, but Jesus is still present. If we who are possessed ever hope to overcome our demons, the Great Physician must help us with His command, “…come out of him and never enter him again” (Mark 9:25, NIV 1984).
Most often today, Christ utters these words through the church, through those who stand beside us in love, with care and accountability, lifting us up over and over again, until we are free.
Some of us are the possessed and need to hear these words from Christ.
Some of us are those through whom Christ needs to speak these words to others.
Deliver us from our demons and help us speak with You to those who are possessed.