I believe that is where the man who cried out to Jesus “I believe; help my unbelief!” was, when he begged for Jesus’ help.
You see, he had a child–a son–whom he loved dearly. This son was plagued by terrible convulsions–apparently these convulsions had thrown the child into the fire and water more than once, seriously putting the child in imminent danger. In Mark 9, we see the Father explain all this to Jesus, and then this happens:
22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
The father first asks Jesus “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” We read Jesus’ response to this request, and then we read the father’s anguished cry:
I believe; help my unbelief!
We often focus on the second part of his cry–or at least I do. “God, help my unbelief!” is a cry I often utter myself, whether in written or spoken prayer. My unbelief seems so large. It threatens to undo me at times. I doubt. I fear. Good grief, I can empathize with this man!! I want to believe, I strive to believe–but so often I let doubt overwhelm me. And then it becomes terrifying to even dare to hope to believe.
But in studying this passage again while I was away on a business trip this week, struggling with unbelief, I noticed the very first part of the father’s sentence for what seemed like the first time. He said “I believe”.
And it hit me then……I am even more like the father than I thought. And maybe you are as well. Because that’s where I find myself: suspended between belief and unbelief. And so, as strange as it may sound, I had to come to terms this morning with my belief rather than my unbelief.
Because I do believe. I do. Even in the midst of tumultous unbelief, I believe. How is that possible?? I don’t know. I don’t know.
Except that I know that I have seen the evidence of His work in my life and my crew’s life, and that can’t be made up. It just can’t.