STRUGGLING WITH UNBELIEF
On one occasion, a large crowd gathered and some teachers of religious law were arguing with them. When the crowd saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with awe, and they ran to greet him. Then Jesus asked what all the arguing was about. One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, "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."
Reference: Mark 9:22-24 New Living Translation (NLT) '...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!"'
This man who spoke to Jesus about his son said that the son had been troubled by an evil spirit since he was a little boy. The spirit often threw the boy into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Then the father said to Jesus, 'Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.' But Jesus did not really commend or approve the man's manner of making his request. What do you mean, 'if I can?', 'Jesus replied'.
As we go forward in our life of faith, sometimes we hear Christians experience moments of unbelief. Some may wonder, 'Does God really love me?'; 'Does God see what I'm going through?'; 'Are all of these stories and teachings from the Bible real, or am I just wasting my time?' These questions and others are the contradictory part of believing in an invisible, intangible God. Without walking in the Spirit always, anyone can struggle with unbelief to the point of asking these questions and that's walking by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV). When we walk by sight, we become everything that opposes God and His will.
The Bible says, 'And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him' (Hebrews 11:6 NIV). Don't come to God with the wrong attitude of 'I don't really know if God can do it', just like the man said, 'have mercy on us and help us, if you can'. In other words, he wasn't so sure if Jesus could handle the matter. With his 'not-really-concerned' attitude, he says to Jesus, 'Anyway, if you can, maybe you should give it a try.' Immediately, Jesus resisted his statement saying, 'What do you mean, if I can?'. In a way, his comment tried to lessen the effectiveness, power, or ability of Jesus to transform his son's situation. In spite of his comment, Jesus lovingly said to him, 'Anything is possible if a person believes.'
Sometimes when a Christian expresses unbelief, it is inappropriate because he is doubting if the Word of God can be trusted and efficacious. Then when something extraordinary happens to strengthen his conviction, he may begin to wonder if God is angry with him for doubting His faithfulness in the first place. But today we've seen God's patience with someone struggling with unbelief. The father of the 'demon-possessed' child had a hard time believing that Jesus could truly heal his son, probably because the situation had helplessly persisted for long. But rather than scolding the man or dismissing him, Jesus encouraged him to demonstrate His faith in that which he needed by assuring him that anything was possible if he believed.
At any time of struggle with unbelief, God is still faithful. He can redirect and reposition your perspective through the guidance of a friend who will encourage you with a comforting passage of Scripture, or a well-timed sermon or even a devotional reading like Golden News article. He may even give you a sign to point you in the right direction. However, we all need to grow up in faith so we'd not remain permanent in the level of needing encouragement and support to overcome unbelief. This is because there's no reason to be afraid, walk in unbelief or doubt God's Word when we are always full of His Word.
The Word of God is a powerful faith builder (Romans 10:17). Meditating on the Word energises our spirit and provides the guidance and assurance we need to continue to approach any situation in life with strong faith. Therefore, if we are honest and open to ourselves, we would admit that we miss it when we ignore or neglect dwelling in the Word and fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit with a consistent attitude.
Scripture Reading - Mark 9:23; John 20:29; Mark 11:24; James 1:6; 1 John 5:4.
Guided Prayer: Heavenly Father, you are awesome in my life and I'm grateful for your Word that teaches me how to walk by faith and not by sight. Today, I'm strengthened by the Word to live triumphantly above any kind of unbelief and doubt. Every day, as I live to enjoy my fellowship with you through the Holy Spirit that lives in me, my faith is built strong and I'm positioned to face any situation and overcome with the right attitude and confession. By maintaining persistent strong faith, Lord, you are faithful to provide all I need to live a victorious and flourishing life and to keep fulfilling your good pleasure, in Jesus' Name, Amen!