May 31, 2013
Struggling with Faith
By Skip Heitzig
The story of the man with the demon-possessed son in Mark 9 shows that real faith will reach out in the midst of impossible situations—although perhaps weakly.
In the exchange between Jesus and this father, the ball keeps going back and forth, sort of like a spiritual ping-pong game. The father: “If you can do anything, help!” Jesus: “If you can believe, all things are possible.” The father: “I believe, but help!” He is saying, “The ball’s back in your court, Jesus. I believe, but there’s a part of me that doesn’t. I’m struggling!”
Have you ever been there, with unbelief and faith fighting each other? Maybe you’ve been around people with great faith and said, “I wish I could believe like that!” Some of them say things that make you feel guilty: “Just believe, brother! Hallelujah!” And you think, “Well, I’m just not like that. I guess I’m a ‘sub-Christian.’ Part of me believes, but there’s a huge part that battles with it.”
Well, you don’t have to feel too bad, because you’re in good company! This man came to Jesus with weak faith, but he was very honest. In tears, he said, “Lord I believe; help my unbelief!” (v. 24).
You know, I think that’s all the Lord wants: Admit where you’re at. It’s bogus when you try to manufacture faith that you don’t have. The Lord will see right through it if you say, “Yes Lord, I really believe you, I trust you, and I know that you’ll do it,” and inside you really don’t.
Don’t pretend to have faith that you don’t have. Come honestly as you are. This man’s faith was small, but so is a mustard seed. And Jesus said if you have faith like a mustard seed you can move mountains (see Matthew 17:20). Come the way you are—broken.
Paul told Timothy that when we’re faithless, God is still faithful (see 2 Timothy 2:13). I love that, because there are times when I’m just too weak. And at those times, if somebody slaps me on the back and says, “Come on, brother, have faith! What’s wrong with you?” it just makes it worse!
A friend of mine was once talking to his pastor about a member of their fellowship whose faith was really weak. He said, “They’ve just got to suck it up! They’ve gotta believe, and go for it!” And the pastor said, “What if they don’t have enough energy to ‘suck it up’ and go on? Then what?”
All of us have times like this. We don’t have enough energy to believe. We’re very vulnerable and weak, like the man in Mark 9. Nothing has worked, and now we’re at our wit’s end. “Lord, I believe, but not very well…”
As this story shows, Jesus will take that honesty, that weak, mustard-seed faith, and He will honor it. Just come to Him as you are…weak, tired and helpless. He is your strength!
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