The first time I read Mark 9:14-29, I remember pausing with tears in my eyes because I could relate to it in such a way that was so strong that it caught me off guard. Not the entire story but rather, one simple verse in it.
For context, I’ll write the story out completely below and the verse I’m talking about will be in bold. When they came back to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to greet Him. And He asked them, “What are you discussing with them?” And one of the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.” And He answered them and said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!” They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.” After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!” But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up. When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.”Mark 9:14-29
I sometimes find it shocking how many people in the bible struggle with a lack of belief. Here you have folks who literally walked side by side with Jesus and they STILL lacked faith. I like to think that if I saw Jesus in front of me performing miracles on a daily basis, physically right in front of my eyes, that I would never stumble. But that’s a lie and these verses prove it! Why? Because they were people just like you and I who had real emotions, real struggles and were flawed.
I don’t judge them. Actually, quite the opposite. It brings me a little bit of comfort knowing that I am not alone. I can’t tell you how many times I have said the same words as the father in that story….
“Lord, help my unbelief”
Such a simple prayer.
But Jesus says, “All things are possible to him who believes” and if Jesus says this then why do we still have unbelief? And what do we do about it?
I think having periods where your faith isn’t strong is quite normal. I also know that Jesus understood this on a level that we couldn’t imagine. So if this happens to you, try not to beat yourself up over it. Struggling with certain parts of faith is part of the growing process. God understands that about us and He’s incredibly patient with us!
When this happens to us, it’s important we lean into God through prayer and lots of time in His Word. We’d never let our kids fall off their bike once and then give up. We’d tell them to get back on the bike and try again. Treat it like that. Keep pushing through the struggle, lean into His promises and read scripture daily. Immerse yourself into it all and continually say that simple prayer, “Lord, help my unbelief!” and trust that He’ll see you through it simply because He says He will!