Do you ever have moments where you seem to have a crisis of faith? Those moments where you just seem overwhelmed by doubt or discouragement? The times where you’re just lying in bed and look up to the sky and wonder, “God are you real? God do you know? God do you care?”
I do. More often than I like to admit.
And it’s in times like that if I wonder if I’m just not a person of great faith. I sometimes wonder if I disappoint God with my lack of faith.
There’s a great story in Scripture that’s always been encouraging to me, where a desperate father who has a very sick son approaches Jesus. His son is believed to have been possessed for most of his life. In describing his son’s condition to Jesus in Mark 9, he says his son has been this way since childhood, and in desperation he says to Jesus…
22b “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
23“ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Now, that’s not a prayer of real strong faith. This is what we call guarded hope. It’s not the kind of prayer that is ever going to be turned into a worship song. You’ll never go to a church service where somebody stands up on the platform and starts the prayer:
Heavenly Father, IF you can do anything…
But how does Jesus respond to him? He simply says, “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
And that’s good news, and horrible news all at the same time. It’s great that “everything is possible,” but the “for him who believes” part is horrible for this dad. He’s like, “well that’s kind of my problem. I’m not really sure you can do this.”
So, he shoots back at Jesus with this statement that just drips with authenticity: “I do believe. Help my unbelief.”
He’s saying: I believe, but I doubt. I want, but I’m afraid. His faith is a tower of stacked Jell-o.
Do you guys identify with this like I do?
- I want to believe you can heal, but I don’t know if I believe it enough to say it out loud.
- I want to believe you will help me find the right person, but I’m going to act like it’s all up to me.
- I want to believe I can trust you with my finances, but actually I’m going to keep a tight grip on every penny.
- I want to believe you hear my prayers, but sometimes I give up halfway through because I don’t feel like prayer is going anywhere.
So, how does Jesus respond to the guarded hope of this man?
Jesus walks to the man’s son, rebukes the demons, heals the boy, takes him by his hand, lifts him to his feet, and restores him to his father.
It’s a reminder to me of this: Jesus prefers honesty to certainty.
I love that about Him. You don’t have to be sure; you’ve just got to be real. So just come to Him. Don’t try to force yourself to say: “Yeah, I can make myself believe this is going to happen.”
Just be real. Forced, insincere certainty kills prayer; sincerity, authenticity, and being real breathes life into it. This father just simply tethers what little faith he has to Jesus, and look what happened.
So, how much faith is enough? It’s kind of a simple thing, really. You just need enough faith to come to Jesus and ask Him. It’s not our job to come to Jesus with some fake, manufactured, forced faith. It’s our job to come to Jesus and be real, just as we are.
I do believe, help me with my unbelief.