Mark 9:14 When they (Jesus, Peter, James, and John) came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. 15 When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. 16 He 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; 18 and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and 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? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; 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…
I’m drawn to the words of v.24 “I believe; help my unbelief!” If there was anyone with a stake in seeing the young man healed it was his father – who is the one speaking these words. It’s obvious he brought his son to the disciples because he’s desperate to see him healed. I can only imagine what it must have been like to see your own child writhe on the ground and foam at the mouth (perhaps what we now call “epilepsy”?). I’m a father to three children and one of the hardest things of all is to see your children struggle or suffer and be powerless to do anything about it. Such was this man’s situation, so he threw a hail Mary and went to Jesus’ disciples, who failed to cast out the demon.
Jesus himself then showed up and asked how long this had been going on. The man answered “since childhood”. Then he said, “If you are able to do anything…”. There’s a seed of doubt there, right? There’s that little word “if”. Jesus picked up on this and rebuked him. But it’s clear the man was not completely without faith or he would not have gone to the trouble of bringing his son in the first place. And so he said to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
Very often I think this describes me. It’s not that I have no faith, it’s just that I don’t always have COMPLETE faith. And I would say my “doubt” is not whether or not our God is able to accomplish the impossible, it’s just that I’m not sure if God will choose to do so in a particular instance. This morning I’m asking the Lord to show me where doubt is getting in my way and to free me from unbelief. Lord let it be so. Amen.