Best of Daily Reflections: Honest Unbelief
The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
Upon their return from the mountain where Jesus had been transfigured, he and his companions came upon a large crowd. At the center were the rest of Jesus' disciples, who were arguing with some Jewish scholars. Jesus asked why they were arguing. A man spoke up, explaining that he had brought his demonized son to the disciples so he might be set free, but the disciples were not able to cast out the evil spirit.
Jesus, distressed by the unbelief of his disciples, asked for the boy to be brought to him. As he came near to Jesus, the evil spirit threw him on the ground, where he was “writhing and foaming at the mouth” (9:20). When the boy’s father said to Jesus, “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can,” Jesus replied, “What do you mean, ‘If I can?’ . . . Anything is possible if a person believes” (9:22-23). In response, “[t]he father instantly cried out, ‘I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief' " (9:24). A more literal translation would be, “I believe, help my unbelief.”
“I believe, help my unbelief.” I’ve prayed like this before. Perhaps you have too. When I cry out to God for help, I am praying in faith. Yet sometimes I feel the shakiness of my convictions: “Lord, please comfort this grieving family. I believe, help my unbelief.” “I ask you to heal this young mother who has terminal cancer. I believe, help my unbelief.” “O God, our world needs your peace. I believe, help my unbelief.”
If we can speak honestly of our belief and our unbelief, then we are ready to ask for God’s help. He will strengthen our faith, much as he did for the father of the demonized boy, though not usually in such a dramatic way. When the father said, “I believe, help my unbelief,” Jesus did not rebuke him for his lack of faith. Rather, he rebuked the evil spirit, commanding it to leave the boy. Soon the young man was free of his bondage.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Do you feel freedom before God to confess your doubts and hesitations? What helps you to have stronger faith in God?
PRAYER: O Lord, as I read this story, I find it so easy to relate to the father. I can imagine his desperation as he sought deliverance for his son. And I can feel his hopeful fear as he admitted to you that he believed, but needed help with his unbelief. How often have I prayed to you just like this father!
Thank you, gracious Lord, for hearing my prayers of mustard-seed-sized faith. Thank you for not rejecting me when I question or doubt. Thank you for giving me the freedom to lay myself before you just as I am. Thank you for all you have done, and all you are doing, to strengthen my faith. By your grace, help me to trust you more, even today. Amen.
Working for Free
In the series, Working for Free, we'll take a look at the different ways people navigate the world of working in a job they love, even when it might not be the way they make ends meet. Join the discussion or share your story in the comments. What do you think? Is passion enough?