Many of us, when we look into the scriptures, find ourselves questioning the level of our faith as we read of those who exhibited such great faith in their lives. Individuals like Abraham who left for a land promised by God (Genesis 12:4), Moses who went back to Egypt to confront Pharaoh (Exodus 5:1) or Peter, as he climbs out of a perfectly fine boat onto stormy waters (Matthew 14:29). These are just a few of those people we read of that seemed to exhibit such great faith, especially during times of duress. But it wasn’t always that way for them, and for others.
Our focus today is about a father’s love for his son found in Mark chapter 9. Jesus arrives on scene with a commotion taking place between the scribes and His disciples. It all surrounds a father who brought his son, suffering from “a mute spirit” (Mark 9:17; Matthew 17:15 calls it epilepsy) to the disciples to be healed. Unfortunately, “they could not” (Mark 9:18). The response of Jesus had to have been penetrating, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you?” (Mark 9:19). Then Jesus’ attention turns to the father, as He enquires of this illness his son has. Undoubtedly frustrated by Jesus’s disciple’s inability to heal his son, he says to Jesus, “But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us” (Mark 9:22). Listen to v23 in the ETRV, “Why did you say, ‘if you can’? All things are possible for one who believes.” One commentator suggests that Jesus seems almost offended by the father’s words. Even if He was, I can relate to the father’s doubt. I can also appreciate what he said next.
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said
with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
Well, as the story concludes, the father’s son is healed. Although our attention could turn to what Jesus teaches His disciples, I want us to reflect for a moment on the father ‘s last request. The raw reality is that one’s level of faith is not always all that it needs or should be at times. The experience of events, just moments before, casts a shadow on what he wanted to believe at that moment. He went to Jesus because his son needed help, only to realize that he also needed help from Jesus.
The three individuals mentioned at the beginning of this article, are people of great faith: two of which are mentioned in the faith chapter of Hebrews 11. But like the father in this story, they had times of difficulty, where faith and adversity would collide, revealing a faith that needs help. What we learn from the father is so important to the growth of our faith. First, we need to be humble. James writes, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Also, the father reminds us where we need to turn to when doubt seeks to compromise our faith; that is, to Jesus, who is the “author and finisher of our faith” (Jesus 12:2). Like the father, I find myself at times saying something similar, “Lord, I believe in You; help me to believe even more.”