Thursday, January 17, 2013

I Believe! Help My Unbelief!

Origin Unknown
"And they brought him [the demon possessed boy] to Jesus. And when the SPIRIT saw Him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he FELL on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.

And JESUS asked the boy's father, "How long has this been HAPPENING to him?" And he said, "From childhood. And it has often CAST him into the fire and into water, to destroy him. But IF you can do anything, HAVE COMPASSION on us AND HELP US."

And Jesus said to him, "'If You can! All things are possible for one who believes.Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I BELIEVE! HELP MY UNBELIEF!" (Mark 9:20-24)

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When the father prefaced his petition for Jesus to help his boy with the phrase, “If You can do anything…” he didn't mean any harm. But Jesus responds by repeating the father’s words to him, thereby making the man's unbelief glaringly clear for all to see. If? IF??? IF?!! What do you mean "if"? This is the Son of God you're talking to! Jesus was there when the world was created! He was born of a virgin! He raised the dead! He healed the sick! He calmed storms with a single word! What do you mean "IF He can do anything?" He can do everything!!!

Can’t He? Sometimes it’s easier to believe that God can’t help because it hurts too much to believe that He won’t. Perhaps this poor father was preparing himself for disappointment. Who can blame him? It was possible that not even Jesus of Nazareth would help his boy―nevermind could. Sometimes it’s easier to not believe than to believe and be let down. ...but sometimes "help" doesn't mean what we think does. 

When we're sick, we pray: “If it's God’s will, we'll get better,” but who among us isn't disappointed when it's not God’s will that we should get better? (Yeah, I'm fairly disappointed with that one myself). When a loved one dies, we pray, "It was God's will," but who doesn't cry because God's will was that they were taken from us too soon? When horrible things happen like earth quakes, terrorist attacks, and kindergarten massacres, we pray, "Please, LORD, help the victims," but which of us isn't wondering why God didn't help them sooner by stopping that terrible thing from happening in the first place?

Thank God our belief is the work of the Holy Spirit, not of our own. We believe as best we can, but it's painfully obvious that we need help. The Holy Spirit strengthens our belief through Word and Sacrament, through prayer, through worship, and even through these awful trials of ours and all our doubts and questions. The father of the possessed boy couldn't have known that, after his slip of the lip that included the tiny word "if," he would then utter one of the truest, most profound prayers in the Bible: "I BELIEVE! HELP MY UNBELIEF!"

Belief is a gift, but like all gifts, it's tainted by sin, and doubt is something we'll continue to fight until Jesus returns and all things are made right. So, in the meantime, we too must pray, “I believe! Help my unbelief!” trusting that our slips of the lip (and of the heart) are forgiven, and our ultimate prayer is already answered. We have already been helped.

Suggested verse to repeat if it's a difficult day is from Mark 9:24b:
PRC buddies, remember to breathe!
"I believe; -------> 5 count inhale
Help my unbelief." -------> 5 count exhale

For more on a lack of healing, click here.

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