Admitting the Flaws and Struggles
I believe; help my unbelief! Mark 9:24
I find significant comfort in the transparency of others regarding their own flaws and imperfections. I’m not glad that others struggle. I’m just thankful when those who do struggle, admit it. It makes me feel much less alone to know that others are as flawed as I am.
I appreciate then, those stories in the Bible that don’t airbrush everything into glossy perfection. In today’s passage, a distressed father approached Jesus regarding his son. The boy suffered from a spirit of deafness, mutism, convulsions, and self-harm, often causing the boy to throw himself into fire or water. The man came to Jesus because he was desperate but also because he believed in Christ’s compassion and power. Please help us! In response, Jesus issued a challenge. All things are possible for one who believes (Mark 9:24).
At this, the man must have despaired, knowing that he still harbored doubt about whether Jesus could or would help his son. At the thought that his son’s healing might be dependent on the measure of his own faith, his hope wavered. Still, he turned to Jesus and did the best thing he could have done. He admitted his lack of faith and threw himself and his failures at Christ’s feet. I believe; help my unbelief!
Jesus didn’t shake his head in disappointment at the man’s lack of faith. Instead, he healed the boy. The gospels report several other times when Jesus rewarded faith with miraculous healing. I find it telling that this man, who admitted his doubt, got the same reward as those whose faith seemed rock solid.
I’d suggest that the opposite of faith isn’t doubt. In fact, it is only in times of desperate doubt that we can truly practice faith. The opposite of practicing faith rather, is living in self-reliance instead of dependence on God. Faith isn’t positive thinking. Practicing faith is keeping our eyes on God and making our feet follow. This man, though he doubted, still lived out his faith by turning to Jesus in his greatest need.
When in crisis, we will likely doubt. That is when we most need to practice faith, acting the opposite of how we feel. Honestly God, I have doubts, but I’m going to follow you anyway. Jesus seems to love it when we come to him, following him, even if – particularly if – we admit our flaws and lack of faith.