I believe… help my unbelief…

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Scripture: Mark 9:14 When (Jesus, Peter, James, and John) came to the other disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. 16 Jesus asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17 Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak… I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.” 19 He answered them, “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you?…” 21 Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood…but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” 23 Jesus said to him, “If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!” 26 After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand.

Observation: Several interesting elements here, but I’ll only mention two. First, Jesus asked the disciples in v.16 what was going on. Yet v.17 tells us that someone from the crowd answered him, not one of his disciples. Why? I’m thinking there was a long pause between Jesus asking the question and waiting for an answer. Why no immediate response from his disciples? Because they were ashamed. A man came to them for help for his son, but they couldn’t heal him. Fail.

Secondly, the father says in v.22 “…but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us…”. Jesus immediately picked up on this “if” business in v.23, to which the man responds “I believe; help my unbelief!”. Another fail. Where so many of the people seeking help from Jesus were supremely confident his ability to do so, this man had doubts.

So there was doubt on the part of the ones trying to help a man and his son (Jesus’ disciples) and on the part of the one being helped (the father). Doubt and more doubt. I can most certainly relate.

Application: Some days I have great faith and some days I have little. It’s true. When things are going well, and prayers are being answered, I believe for the impossible. When I’m struggling, and God seems distant, I find it hard to believe in anything. Hence my great appreciation for the father’s cry in v.23 “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Prayer: Lord, give us grace to overcome our disbelief. Amen.

4 thoughts on “I believe… help my unbelief…

  1. This is my mantra most days. And I don’t know if I can explain this well, but it is what keeps my faith going. The dependency of asking Jesus to help my unbelief. The thirst to learn more. I crave more. I believe…help my unbelief, is me.

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    • I’m sorry to write on this again, but I was once with a group of people who I respect greatly, and they saw doubt or unbelief as a negative thing, but I see it as a positive thing. And I struggled to explain it. Of course we have doubts, we are human. I have a mustard seed of faith given to me by God, but I can’t make it grow into a tree. When I plead, “I believe, help my unbelief” the Holy Spirit waters it and Christ’s radiant light shines on it. And then it can grow into a tree. It doesn’t change from a seed to a tree overnight or by itself. We have to have unbelief to grow. And this is why this verse is so essential to me, I don’t want it to happen any other way. Because I want to keep growing.

      • wording correction…..We have to have unbelief in order for our faith, our soul, our lives with God to grow. (thank you)

  2. Steve Brandt

    I confess, that “if you are able” creeps into my prayer and faith (or lack of faith) language. Lord help me.
    Thanks for the lesson this morning, Ernie.

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