Several months ago I was invited to go on a mission trip several hours away from my home. Our missions team would spend the weekend with a community of women in the mountains, helping to cultivate new relationships with them and grow their various ministries.
I was so excited for the opportunity, but the trip would take over five hours and it was a drive I would have to make by myself (our team was coming from all over the state). Driving alone on the mountain roads to a place I had never been just sent my anxiety into a tailspin.
For anyone else, this would probably have been no big deal. But for me, the more I thought about that drive, the more anxious I became.
My mind began to circle around all the things that could go wrong as I traveled by myself.
Not too long before the trip during one of my devotion times with Jesus, I came across a story of a father and his son. And the message of this story was just what I needed to hear. When we come to this story in Mark 9, Jesus, along with Peter, James, and John have just come down from The Mount of Transfiguration (read Mark 9:2-32). A large crowd has gathered, and through it comes a father in desperate need of help. The father says:
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 this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it. (verses 17-18)
Jesus asks the father how long this has been happening, and the father tells Jesus it’s been happening since he was a little boy. And then in verse 22, we find this father’s final plea for help.
“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!” (verses 22-24)
My heart just breaks for this father. Can you imagine how many years of anguish he has felt over his son? Wanting desperately to help him but not knowing how.
Until that one day when he is able to make his way to Jesus.
Jesus responds to him by asking “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” I don’t think Jesus was giving a sarcastic response to this father. I think He was meeting this father where he was at, and affirming the power He himself had.
Can I be honest for a moment, friends? I think the reason this particular story hit me so hard that day was because of the father’s last response to Jesus.
“I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (verse 24)
You see, I believe Jesus is real. I believe He is alive. I believe He is working in ways we can’t imagine and in ways we don’t even see yet. But every now and then, that unbelief kicks in and that twinge of doubt sets in that maybe, just maybe, this is the time Jesus won’t come through for me. Have you ever been there?
We struggle with unbelief in so many different ways.
Our dreams. Our families. Our health. Our callings. The list could go on.
And I think what’s so beautiful about this story is the honesty this father has. He acknowledges both his belief and his unbelief. And friends, we have to do the same.
God is so very tender to us in this battle.
He knows where our flesh begins and where our hearts get weak.
We must first acknowledge our unbelief, and then we must release our unbelief to Him.
Jesus heals the boy. He casts the demon out of the boy’s body and commands it never to return. The boy is lying on the ground, lifeless, and people around them begin to think he is dead. Jesus walks over to the boy, takes his hand, and stands him to his feet. What a powerful display of Jesus’ power!
The power of Jesus is still the same today.Whatever is going on in our lives that has us doubting God's provision or His love or His peace, we have to release to Him.Click To Tweet
Looking back, it was never really about the drive to the mountains for me. It was about my unbelief. Once I was able to acknowledge that what I was really struggling with was my unbelief, I confessed it, and I asked God just to pour out blessings on the weekend and the trip. I wanted to see His mighty power at work.
And boy, did He work! There were so many sweet moments, sweet blessings, that I knew it was God speaking to me and showing me that He’s in control and He wants all of my belief to be in Him.
Are you struggling with your own unbelief?
Know that you are not alone.
Dive into God’s word, soak up His promises, reflect on His goodness, pray for guidance, and know that the same power of Jesus still exists today.