In work, ministry, and life we all experience frequent seasons when things don’t work out quite the way we had hoped.
In missions, our internal dialogues consist of “Am I making a difference?” or “Will these things ever change?”
When we are trusting for provision, for a breakthrough in our health, or seeing a life changed, there is very fine line between losing hope or accepting the limitations of the change that will happen, all while still believing in a God who could do the unexpected.
We’ve all heard the stories where people are told to “just have faith”. I personally have seen a friend who was told her father died because of a lack of faith.
Is that the answer? More faith?
This year has brought several of these challenges to our family. Ministry disappointment, divorce of those close to us, and various health related issues.
We found ourselves wrestling with the delicate blend of serving an all-powerful God on a broken and imperfect planet. Sometimes this process results in times of throwing up your hands, wondering what is happening.
A passage of Scripture has been in the forefront of my thoughts for a few months. It seems to reflect this very tension.
In Mark 9:14-29, Jesus heals a boy with an unclean spirit. In the dialogue which preceded the healing, Jesus asked the boy’s father how long this has been happening? The fathers respond with,
“But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Jesus points out the key word in the father’s statement.
“And Jesus said to him, “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.”
How many times in the depths of frustration do we catch ourselves uttering “If?”
We almost feel guilty for this. Of course Jesus can do it. He is God after all.
Yet in our humanity, we utter that two letter statement of doubt, often in fear of getting our hopes up.
Not so much if you are capable, but if….
- You will do this for me, not just others.
- The provision happens in my bank account, not always my neighbors’.
- The healing we see working in our communities will find its way into our own homes.
Yes, He can,…but will He break into a broken and fallen world and touch MY situation.
The father in the story utters a phrase which is so profound.
“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
I believe…..help my unbelief.
I believe in truth, I believe in principle, I believe in the unchanging character of the one I serve.
Help my unbelief, which comes with emotion, fear, doubt, and weariness
As we turn to the New Year, it is good to do two things.
Acknowledge and be honest about…
- the fears that our ministry will never achieve all we hope,
- the doubts that God will answer OUR prayers (not just those of others),
- the weariness which can border on frustration, tempting us to pack it in and go home
These are areas where we cry out to God to help our unbelief.
At the same time, we need to remind ourselves of what we DO believe.
- I believe in the unchanging character of a good God.
- I know God is on my side and working for my benefit.
- I trust Immanuel, God with us, is not leaving us alone in this journey.
Acknowledge the unbelief and ask for help.
Remind ourselves of the truth which forms our foundation. (Preach it in the mirror!)
Take some time as the year wraps up to reflect and reset. We all need it.
I Believe….Help My Unbelief
Photo by Tiago Muraro