Life has problems. Many of these problems are just clumsy, frustrations, but some seem aggressive; like someone is out to get you. Mark records a story of self-destruction that doesn’t ultimately come from self:
Mark 9:19-24 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.”
(20) And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. (21) And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. (22) And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” (23) And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”
(24) Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
A spirit. Another will fighting with the will of the boy. A spirit who wills the destruction of the boy. But, to the observer, it just seems like the boy is crazy and self-destructive. What help is available?
Initially Jesus’ disciples are trying to help, but they aren’t making much progress. Jesus’ rebuke is that they are a ‘faithless generation’. They just cannot manage to trust, believe, have faith, that God is able and willing to intervene decisively. After hearing the boy’s story Jesus does two things: declares that when trust in God is active, there is no limit to what can be done, and then demonstrates it by delivering the boy from torment. What is the trigger between the two? An effort at faith.