And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6, ESV)
Faith is essential to the Christian life. The above verse reminds us we cannot please God without it.
And yet, our faith falters sometimes. It's definitely very mustard seed-ish. Maybe even smaller. It seems so simple to say, "Just believe the promises of God." And it is simple. But it's not. Because life is difficult and the trials we face can be daunting.
There was once a dad who had a demon-possessed son (no, this is not a joke about hormonal teenagers). The situation was so dire that the demon had nearly killed the boy. The father and son encounter Jesus and in a moment of desparation the father cries out, "If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22–24).
Can anyone else resonate with that dad?
Help my unbelief.
It may be matters big or matters small, but if we're honest we, too, struggle to believe. Like this broken, honest dad, we need God to infuse our floundering faith with hope and courage. We need him to come along-side to encourage us and remind us of his promises and history of faithfulness.
Last Sunday, I found myself struggling to believe. The power went out just a few moments before our worship service was to begin. Our music team did a great job improvising on the fly and lead a beautiful time of quiet acoustic praise. As I stood there singing, I sensed the Spirit leading me to hold my message on the fifth petition of the Lord's Prayer for next week. Rather than preach a sermon, I sensed him saying, "You've been preaching on prayer. I've gone ahead and made things nice and quiet for you. Let my people pray together."
I began to make excuses in my mind as to why that wouldn't work.
It's too quiet. People won't be able to hear. No one's going to want to pray in front of all these people. They didn't have any notice or warning. We didn't put any planning into this. I will look silly if I open it up and get nothing but crickets. The heat's off and people are going to be cold. I should just let them go home. What if no one prays? How will this reflect on me as a leader (see how self-centered I can be?)?
But yet I knew it's what God wanted us to do.
Help my unbelief.
And you know what happened? People prayed. And they prayed. And it was beautiful.
What are you struggling to trust him for today?
And ask him to help your unbelief.