“Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’” Mark 9:24 (NIV)
I typed the words “God will work it out” into the search bar on my phone — the title of a song I desperately needed to hear but didn’t fully believe.
It had been a struggle for the past few months as difficulties outside of my control continued to mount in my life. I felt like a pingpong ball, tossed back and forth by what appeared to be unfair and impossible challenges: aging parents, marriage woes and internal issues in me.
I was overwhelmed and determined to drown out the doubt and sadness with the words I needed to repeat in my brain: “God will work it out.”
If I could hear those words enough, maybe, just maybe, I would believe them. I popped in my earbuds and rested my head on the pillow. As the song played and then repeated over and over, the tears slowly slid down my face. I eventually cried myself to sleep.
The lyrics prompted me to reflect on my past experiences with God. As I thought about the difficult circumstances I had already faced with Him, I found myself mustering up the courage to believe God would do the same again. But the words of the song were no match for the weight of my worry.
When I woke up, there had been no visible change in my situation or my faith. I had the same doubts in God as I had gone to bed with. The circumstances I was facing seemed much larger than God’s ability to resolve them on my behalf. My faith felt so uncertain.
This is where a desperate father found himself in the book of Mark.
This determined dad brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus. An evil spirit had robbed the boy of his speech and thrown him to the ground. Sometimes the spirit threw him into fire or water in an attempt to kill him. The son had also gnashed his teeth and foamed at the mouth since childhood. (Mark 9:17-21)
In desperation, this man came first to Jesus’ disciples — who were unable to cast out the demon — and then to Jesus. Prior to hearing about Jesus, the man may have reasoned that his son’s life would never change. News of the miracles Jesus performed likely gave the man a glimmer of hope for his son, but he still had doubts.
His uncertainty was obvious when he said to Jesus, “… if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (Mark 9:22b, NIV).
Jesus looked at the man and replied, “‘If you can?’ … Everything is possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23, NIV).
Then the father uttered a sentiment I could relate to: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
This is where many of us may find ourselves when we’ve weathered a difficult circumstance for a long time.
Caring for a child with disabilities, struggling under the weight of debt, walking through a challenging season in marriage, and dealing with an illness are some situations that can enlarge themselves in our minds. We, too, may be saying, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
But this man’s uncertain faith was enough for Jesus. Jesus commanded the demon to come out of the boy and never enter him again. The boy was healed on that day, and I imagine the father’s faith was fortified. (Mark 9:26-27)
God’s ability to resolve our problems will always be far greater than the problems themselves. The obstacle we must overcome is fearing that God will not resolve our circumstances in the way and the timing we would like Him to resolve them.
The man in this text received his desired outcome, but this is not always the case for every prayer. If God does not answer our prayers in the way we desire, it does not make Him any less compassionate or concerned about us. It’s also not a reflection of our lack of faith. Having faith in God, despite the challenges we face, requires that we choose to trust Him with the outcome.
We have the choice to believe God is who He says He is, no matter what He allows in our lives. I say this as I continue to walk through difficult circumstances beyond my control while choosing to believe God will work it out: God will always work out all circumstances for the eternal good of those who love Him.
Dear God, help me trust You when I feel uncertain. May I rest in the truth that You are intimately concerned about me. Grant me peace as I wait for You to work out the difficult circumstances in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Luke 17:5, “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’” (NIV)
Where in your life do you have uncertain faith? How is the Holy Spirit encouraging you to trust God? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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