“”I believe! Help my lack of faith.” Mark 9:24
This was the desperate cry of a father who brought his son to Jesus and his disciples for healing. The boy was “possessed by a spirit that won’t let him talk. Whenever the spirit brings on a seizure, it throws him to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes exhausted.” (Mark 9:14-29) The disciples were not able to heal the boy. When Jesus asked how long the boy has been sick, the father responded in frustration:
“He has been this way since he was a child. The demon has often thrown him into fire or into water to destroy him. If it’s possible for you, put yourself in our place, and help us!”
Jesus then said to him, “As far as possibilities go, everything is possible for the person who believes.”
In our modern medically advanced society, it is difficult for us to appreciate this miracle of healing. From the story, the boy might have a brain tumour that affects his speech and causing epilepsy. It would be negligence for a doctor to send such a patient to a priest for exorcism instead of sending him to the neurosurgeon. In our modern society we have more faith in medicine and doctors than in God.
Recently, I saw a man with liver cancer who developed a stroke and was paralysed in his right upper and lower limbs. He was found to have a big blood clot in the left side of his brain. He received no surgery and was only given rehabilitation but he recovered completely. I was reminded that we are fearfully and wonderfully made and that it is God who heals.
Jesus came, died and rose from the dead to give us the gift of faith to live our lives as the children of God. We not called to live a life of blind faith but we need to be healed of our blindness to the love of God. Faith is not a matter of the mind but of the heart. We believe with our minds but we need faith to commit our wills and desires to God.
It is our lack of faith in God’s providential care that keeps us from living the truly abundant life of agape love, unspeakable joy and the peace that is beyond human understanding in the Kingdom of God. We are, to quote John Barry, walking in circles looking for home. We do not realise that we are already home for our home is in Christ.
We have a lack of faith when we do not have a personal relationship with God as our Heavenly Father. God will give us the desires of our heart when we delight in Him. John Barry noted that if we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t really want to know what God wants. In our hearts, we’re certain that knowing will mean uncomfortable change. For our human nature drives us to seek pleasure and to avoid pain. We fail to see that the problems in life and suffering can be our ladders to God’s throne of grace so that we can find strength for our weaknesses and forgiveness for our sinfulness. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can “overcome whoever we are, wherever we have been and whatever we will do.”
Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit - we cannot strive to earn or to gain faith. It is a gift that we can only receive by emptying our hearts of our egos. Our egos seek to Edge God Out of the throne of our hearts. We need the spirit of repentance to confess our need for God’s power of love in our lives. As Sarah Young reminds us, faltering steps of dependence are the links to Christ’s presence. Confessing our needs, our failings and our weaknesses is not a reflection of our lack of faith. It is an affirmation of our need for God’s grace in our lives so that we can Exalt God Only with our lives.
Faith is also the fruit of the Spirit. We cannot try to get more faith through our bible study or church worship or good works. We can only grow in faith as we meditate on and live out the truths that God has revealed to us through His Word and in our worship. We need the faith to see what God can do or will do as well as our desperate need for God to fill our hearts with the resurrection power of Christ. Only then will we be able to see our life, problems and blessings from His perspective. Only then can we grow in faith in God’s faithfulness so that when the storms of life strike us, we will find peace in the eye of the storm.