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 9:23-24
Imagine hearing the cry of this father for his son, “I believe; help my unbelief!” We can feel the anguish as he cries out these words! His only desire at that moment is for his son to be cured. He’s so troubled by his son’s suffering, he asks Jesus to ‘fill in the gaps’ in his belief. What a prayer that is! There’s a distant echo of the Shema for me (Deut. 6:4-9), where the Israelites were told to love God with all their heart, soul and might. My Hebrew professor in school said the word for ‘might’ could very well be translated ‘everything else.’ That sounds like what this dad is saying: my belief and everything else. Jesus tells the father his belief in the cure is all he needs.
The simple belief of this father leads to the healing of his son. Our simple belief leads to a relationship with God. Simple is the appropriate word because it really is a simple thing. The hard part is accepting it as simple. It seems in our culture, we believe everything has a cost. There’s got to be something we have to do, pay, or give for this to be palatable. The thing is, the price was already paid! This story happens while Jesus is journeying back to Jerusalem to pay that cost with his own life.
Just like this dad asking Jesus to bolster his unbelief, we have gaps, too. There are areas where our belief is either weak or non-existing. An example might be that pesky warning light on your car’s dash. What’s your first inclination? Perhaps as you go through the day, bumping into things like this, lift them to Jesus, asking him to help you believe more fully. You might be surprised at the increase of fullness in your belief!
By Rich Obrecht