The boy’s father [said]… “if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.”
~ Mark 9:21-24
Jesus’ response to the father in this story reads more like a reminder than a rebuke. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Immediately the man responded, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
I live in a limbo between belief and unbelief, and therein lies the greatest impediment to my spiritual growth. In Matthew’s telling of the same story, Jesus’ disciples revealed that they had been unable to drive out the spirit themselves. When Jesus succeeded where they had not, they questioned why. “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20.
Somewhere along the line of my theological upbringing I learned to discount some of the key aspects of scripture – things like God’s ability to heal the sick and the power of faith. I discounted them because they raise too many troubling questions. Just yesterday, a visiting pastor at my church told two stories of women who had been miraculously healed of cancer. A man in our congregation began to sob. He lost his young wife to cancer a couple of months ago.
So of course the troubling question arises – were the other women healed because they had “more” faith than this grieving man in our congregation? No, I don’t think so. But I also don’t think that my inability to answer that question dictates that I therefore discount God’s power to heal.
I don’t have satisfactory answers to the troubling questions. While I continue to seek understanding, I have to acknowledge that there are mysteries surrounding my infinite God that my finite mind cannot comprehend. I need to pray with complete belief, and experience the wonders that await.
The father’s faith was incomplete, imperfect and weak. But it was sufficient. He had faith enough to make the request, faith as small as a mustard seed.
Lord, inspire me to full belief in my heart and spirit, for my mind is incapable of grasping your infinite mysteries. Amen.
~ Stephen Peterson