This is one of those passages where Christ sounds really, really exasperated with the disciples. He's come down of the mountain where Peter and John have seen him transfigured and he's met by a desperate father whose child is possessed by a demon that the disciples have failed to cast out. Jesus is frustrated by the incompetence and by the dependence.
"You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you." In the very next passages he turns privately to the disciples to warn of the coming trials, but they cannot understand.
I am not Jesus. But reading this passage reminds me of the exasperation that parenting creates. I feel like there is always need, always more to be done, always trouble getting the message or lesson to sink in, all the while time pressures knowing that you do not have forever to shape these lives for the good of the world.
Because one day, far to soon, they step out into he world and claim independence. And as a parent, you fade.
Christ was going to face terrible trials and while he did, his disciples would scatter and make bad choices and do stupid things. And Christ knew that was the case. And still he had to walk forward with faith that as he took his leave, others would step into the void and emerge from a fog of little faith to live out what they had heard him teach and command.
Sometimes I feel like I am walking forward on faith that as I leave, my children will step up. They will. I know that. And it is still a little heartbreaking.