Lord, Help My Unbelief

Lord, Help My Unbelief

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mk 9:24

In a congregation I once served, there was an older woman who had lost her husband to cancer prior to my arrival. The loss proved spiritually paralyzing. She had stopped attending church, refused to take communion and would not accept visits from the pastor.

Her condition was extremely difficult for the entire congregation. For almost 40 years, the woman and her husband had been dynamic leaders and teachers in the church. Many cited them as the most important mentors in their faith development. Now her unbelief was so overwhelming, it was causing others to doubt their own faith.

When we finally met, I discovered her unbelief was actually anger. As her husband became more sick, the intensity of her prayers increased. She prayed for a miracle. Like the ones Jesus performed in the Bible. The kind she had spent a lifetime teaching. In the end her prayers and belief were not enough to prolong her husband’s life.

We had a break through moment which, I believe, helped her start to explore healing. I reminded her that even Lazarus, who Jesus had raised from the dead, eventually died. Granting believers immortality of human existence is not necessarily the thing Jesus promises. Shortly after this conversation, she agreed to take communion. The move was not about restoring her belief, but coming to grips with her unbelief. It was the aspect of her life in greatest need of healing.

Faith is often nothing more than a willingness to believe in something we cannot fully grasp. The father in today’s reading embraces this condition. He opens up his heart to the possibilities of God, but also claims the limitations of his human mind.  His simple statement reminds us the power to heal is not ours. It is a gift we receive from outside of ourselves. A gift we do not always understand.

Click to read: Mark 9: 14-29

Reflection Questions:

  • Who was formative in your faith development?
  • What do you firmly believe in terms of faith?
  • Where do you struggle most with unbelief?
  • How does your unbelief shape your faith life?

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