This scripture picks up the story where Jesus is talking to a father about his demon-possessed son.
He asked the boy’s father, “How long has this been going on?”
“Ever since he was a little boy. Many times, it pitches him into fire or the river to do away with him. If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!” Jesus said, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.” No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!”
Seeing that the crowd was forming fast, Jesus gave the vile spirit its marching orders: “Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you—Out of him, and stay out!” Screaming, and with much thrashing about, it left. The boy was pale as a corpse, so people started saying, “He’s dead.” But Jesus, taking his hand, raised him. The boy stood up.
Mark 9: 21-27 The Message
Here is a desperate father. Seeking help for his son, he looks for any kind of aid, any possible cure. His heart is broken, as his son is possessed by demons. This man has heard that there is a new teacher and healer in town. He seeks Jesus out, hoping that perhaps Jesus may offer a cure. More than anything else in the whole world, this man wants his son to be healed.
Jesus is full of compassion. He wants to heal, and to mend, and to restore people. Yet Jesus is struck by the man’s phraseology. ‘if you can heal him…”
Jesus reads the doubt woven into the man’s words: “Maybe Jesus can heal my sick son. Maybe not. It’s at least worth a shot to ask him.”
With stunning honesty, the man says, “I believe. Help me with my doubts.”
Jesus did not hesitate, or take time to lecture the man that no one should ever doubt Him. Jesus does not let the man anguish any longer over his conflicting beliefs. Jesus does not abandon this desperate man. Instead, he listens to the man’s prayer. “Lord, help me to believe.”
To make his acceptance of the desperate father complete, Jesus goes and heals the man’s son.
What do we learn from this story? Two important lessons.
First, doubt and faith can exist inside a person, at the very same time.
Second, we learn that Jesus has compassion on those who doubt. (His later encounter with his disciple Thomas proves this point.)
As the Lord had compassion on this miracle-seeking father, so we can trust that the Lord will have compassion upon us, in spite of our doubts.
Yet Jesus’ goal is to turn our doubts into faith. We are not to get stuck in a place where we constantly question everything, perhaps overthinking things. No. Instead, Jesus wants to lead us out of that place of never-ending doubt. He desires to lead us to the place of grace, which He offers to all, evening doubting and desperate fathers.
Help me when I struggle to take You at Your word. Help me to remove the “if’s” from my vocabulary, and replace them with “when”. Give me the patience to wait for Your timing. Help me resist the desire to spread doubt and negative thinking among others. Hold me close. Give me the strength to believe when I struggle. Help me to remember that you have all things under control. Aid me in giving You all the things that I think I can control.
Humbly, I pray this prayer in the name of Your Son, who heals every disease, Jesus Christ. Amen