I believe; help my unbelief!
When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.” He answered them, “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you are able!– All things can be done for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!” After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “This kind can come out only through prayer.”
“I believe; help my unbelief!”…After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand.
If we are honest, and Lent is a good season for honesty, we have all had those moments when we, like the father with the ill son, want desperately to believe but nevertheless struggle. The tension between faith and doubt is as old as the human story. In her book, Amazing Grace, Kathleen Norris shares some wisdom she received from an old Benedictine monk who stated that “…doubt is merely the seed of faith, a sign that faith is alive and ready to grow.” (page 63)
One of the gifts of studying scripture is to be reminded that God is with us –in the midst of our triumphs and tragedies both. In our own lives when challenges come, and even in Ukraine where we witness the horror of war, God is there. I believe; help my unbelief!
In challenging times, imagine Jesus taking your hand and helping you and those you love to stand. Thomas Andrew Dorsey is considered the “father” of the African American gospel tradition. One of his most popular gospel songs is “Precious Lord.” Dorsey wrote “Precious Lord” after the death of his wife in childbirth and the subsequent death of his newborn son. I invite you to reflect on the words of his gospel song during those challenging times in your life when you need to be reminded that God is with you!
Blessings and in faith,
Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand, I am tired, I am weak, I am worn; through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light, take my hand, precious Lord, lead me on.
(Lift Every Voice and Sing II, Hymn 106. Words by Thomas A. Dorsey)