His son was a hopeless case, or so it seemed. Mark’s Gospel reports that the boy had a spirit that not only prevented him from speaking, but threw him to the ground, causing him to foam at the mouth and grind his teeth. Jesus’ disciples could do nothing. Why should this desperate father hope for a better outcome with Jesus? He told the master:
If you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us (Mark 9:22, NRSV).
Jesus took pity on them, gently chiding the father for his shaky confidence, reminding him that belief was essential for deliverance. Then, in some of the most memorable words of the Gospel, the man replied:
I believe; help my unbelief!
It might have been the son convulsing on the ground, but in a real sense the father’s faith was also “on the ground.” Life had knocked it flat on its face.
Then Jesus intervened. That day, son and father left as changed individuals, both able to stand (v. 27).
Most of us at one time or another find ourselves in the role of that dad. We want to believe that God cares so much that He knows the number of hairs on our head. (For some, that’s not such a feat!) We want to trust, to believe that – in the words of the old “Imperials” song –
“He didn’t bring us this far, to leave us;
He didn’t teach us to swim to let us drown.
He didn’t build his home in us to move away.
He didn’t lift us up to let us down.”
We believe, but unbelief is knocking at the door. At those times, it helps me if I review the blessings of God. What has God done in the past that gives me confidence He’ll come through in the present?
Father and son left differently than they came. Jesus intervened. Let’s trust in His loving intervention in our lives today.
Reflections based on Scripture for Day 25, Cambridge Daily Reading Bible, 1995