One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. And whenever the spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grind his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”
So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth.
“How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father.
He replied, “Since he was a little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”
“What do you mean, ‘if I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:17-18, 20-24 NLT)
Sometimes it seems like the longer we follow Jesus the more questions arise. We may face heart wrenching problems, and our prayers go answered. As we are surrounded by trouble, we have a choice to make.
- We can isolate ourselves from God and others, and try to power through on our own. After awhile this approach leads to discouragement and giving up.
- We can push beyond our pain and seek the Lord. As we declare our trust in God, we also acknowledge the areas in which we struggle with unbelief.
I love the authenticity of this story. The father had endured years of heartache, as his son suffered with an incurable condition. Despite his attempts to find a cure, his son grew worse. When he heard that the Healer was in town, he rallied courage to seek help one more time. Jesus wasn’t available, but perhaps the disciples would have the answer. However, once again the son found no relief, and disappointment set in.
And then Jesus entered the scene. The father had heard hundreds of accounts of the miracles worked through Jesus. He knew the Son of Man could heal his son. And then, the boy started convulsing in the presence of Jesus! Doubts crept in as the dad reached out.
The man cried out, “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”
Jesus gently guided him, challenging him to look beyond the circumstances to believe in His power to save.
The man, beaten down by years of disappointments, acknowledged that he did believe. Asking Jesus for help was an act of faith. At the same time, he was acutely aware that his faith was battered and bruised.
In desperation the man cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
I often find myself in a similar place, although the circumstances are vastly different.
I believe that nothing is impossible with God, however, my experience is filled with unanswered prayers and undelivered miracles. If ever there were a time for God to intervene, it should have been then. But then it didn’t happen.
I join the man in honest confession, “Help me, O Lord, to overcome the barriers that keep me from trusting you more fully.”
Are you aware of the belief barriers you face? If not, ask the Lord to reveal them to you. If so, ask the Lord to walk you to freedom.
The humble acknowledgement of our struggles is an invitation to Jesus to show up in our lives. He is the answer we desperately need.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me. I have placed my trust in You, and You have shown Yourself faithful to save and deliver me. Yet I continue to have doubts that plague me, areas in my life filled with unbelief. I do believe, Lord Jesus, but help me overcome my unbelief!