Key verse: Mark 9:24
Big idea: Our faith is nurtured by the Son of God.
Imagine the father Jesus meets in this chapter. He had been so excited to find out his wife had become pregnant. Thrilled to hold his infant boy. But how many dreams seemed ruined when the boy, as a child, became possessed by a demon? The monster threw him into flame and water to try and kill him and so many hopes seemed lost. He must have tried many doctors and priests, looking for deliverance in vain. What hope could he have left? Then he about a Man who was unlike any other, that was doing things no one else had ever done. When he went to bring his son to this Man, he was not even there. Another disappointment. But His disciples had performed many miracles and cast out many demons too! Yet, they could not help his boy. With his window of hope getting thinner and thinner, he waited a little longer until Jesus came down the mountain and when this desperate father's child was brought to Him, the demon took control. Once again, things seemed to get worse, not better. Finally, as he cried out to Jesus for help, he gave one of the most memorable sentences in the whole Bible: "I believe, help thou mine unbelief."
It sounds like a contradiction. Can belief and unbelief really exist in the same heart? Clearly what is hard for our brains to understand is obvious to our hearts. We can have an ember of faith and find out that it is enough. God takes the spark of belief that we have and gives it fuel. How did Jesus answer this man's cry? The child came to Him and Jesus commanded the demon to leave him. Jesus had the power to make the demon leave instantly without a reaction, but instead He allowed the demon to send the boy to the ground as if he were dead on its way out. One more heart-wrenching moment for a father who had been through so much. Why? He was answering the father's prayer. He took the little bit of faith and helped the unbelief.
Sometimes we have to hit rock bottom before we can really learn to trust. As long as there is some slice of our hearts that thinks we can rely on ourselves, we will never fully experience trust in God. So "help my unbelief" can be a painful prayer. Are we really willing to have God take us to the school of faith, where we learn to trust Him alone? I wonder how many of us are really prepared to let God break our hearts if it means He will put them back together again.
Discussion idea: Does faith always need to be tested to grow? Why or why not?
Prayer focus: I believe, help thou mine unbelief.