Sometimes we don’t seem to have enough faith to push a prayer request over the top to the desired answer we want. It’s not that we don’t believe in Jesus; it’s that we get used to things as they are—whether it’s a chronic illness, broken relationship, unfulfilled dream, impossible deadline, or trouble in the workplace.
Getting used to unresolved issues and resigning ourselves to them erodes faith in God’s ability to bring a sovereign solution. We still believe in Jesus, just not for that problem. Learning to live with the situation, we throw up our hands and settle into a defeated place of “unbelieving belief.”
Jesus came upon a large crowd, and religious leaders of the law were arguing with the people. When the Lord asked what they were arguing about, a man spoke up and said that he brought his son to be healed of convulsions, knowing that an evil spirit was causing them. He was distraught because the disciples did not successfully cast the evil spirit out of the boy.
As a parent, it’s easy to understand the father’s frustration. Nothing is more troubling than watching one’s child suffer from sickness—whether it’s a 24-hour virus or a chronic, unyielding illness of body or mind. The Lord sent the disciples out to heal the sick and tell everyone about the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:1-2). Surely bringing his sick son to these men of God would secure deliverance and healing!
Not so. The father’s belief in Christ and His ability to heal was sure, or was it? He gave the Lord a vivid description of the illness: "Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So, I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not” (Mark 9:17-18).
The boy had suffered since childhood with the condition, and when he approached Jesus, the spirit acted out in defiance of Jesus’ authority, and the boy began to convulse. The father begged Jesus to intervene, saying, “If You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us."
To the father’s desperate plea, “IF YOU CAN DO ANYTHING,” Jesus said, "IF YOU CAN BELIEVE, all things are possible to him who believes" (Mark 9:23 NKJV). It was as if the Lord called the father to attention, and his response was perfect, for immediately, the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; HELP MY UNBELIEF!" He realized he had “unbelieving belief.”
Jesus called the evil spirit out of the boy, and after crying out and convulsing the boy one last time, the demon left, and Jesus helped the boy to his feet. That was quite a faith booster for the entire crowd, I’m sure, but especially for the father and son.
They’d both probably gotten used to the seizures and foaming at the mouth. No doubt, everyone came to know the boy as the mute child who had terrible “spells” at random times, especially around fire and water. How many prayers had the boy’s parents said in desperation as they comforted him during a convulsion? The father believed in the miraculous power of Christ, but he nursed a nagging attitude of unbelief for this particular chronic, unchanging condition.
We all have times of faltering faith. Jesus gets it. He rewards faith in many ways and accepts even the weakest expression of faith as something of great value. He saw right through the father’s unbelief-versus-belief dilemma, knowing precisely the words to snap him out of it: “IF YOU CAN BELIEVE, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE TO HIM WHO BELIEVES.” Offer your unbelief to the Lord, and He will help. His answers may surprise you!
Let’s take inventory of the troubling situations we’re tolerating. Our hesitancy to aggressively pursue the Lord for His divine solutions can be nursing unbelief. Listen again to Jesus’ words, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
Our response? “Lord, I believe You will ___(fill in the blank)____; HELP MY UNBELIEF!”
© 2023, Chris Werre