The disciples were not able to drive out a demon that was harming a young boy. That made them feel useless. They ended up dealing with their frustration by arguing with critics in the crowd.
What went wrong? Did they need to think more positively? Sometimes we might hear someone say, “Just have more faith,” or, “Just visualize it into reality”—meaning that anything is possible if we truly believe it can happen. But that is just self-powered optimism and has nothing to do with godly faith.
In contrast to the disciples’ ineffectiveness and arguing, we hear the father of the boy pleading with Jesus, “I do believe; help my unbelief!” And from that prayer new life arises.
Faith is not first of all a matter of self-generated conviction, but a blessed mixture of a divine gift that is received and nurtured—as in this father’s prayer.
Jesus is not put off by the man’s humble and honest plea. And he is not put off by ours: “I believe—but honestly, God, I’m not strong, and I’m not always certain. Please help me.”
Faith and discipleship can be challenging. And we are totally dependent on the Lord to give us faith. Because he loves us, Jesus is delighted to have us ask him for help as we struggle in learning to live by faith.
Dear Jesus, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief. Thank you. Amen.
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