“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24)!
The father, perhaps at the moment he spoke, must have realized his own mistake. Mark tells us that the man immediately exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24)! How often our vigorous faith is drowned by life’s circumstances. We need the blessing of grace even to have faith.
The man did not ask, “Help me believe,” but, “Help me overcome my unbelief!” The first casualty of the war within his heart was his faith. The failed power of Jesus’ disciples had challenged the faith that had brought him to Jesus for healing. Therefore his cry was, “Help me overcome!” At that point he was not asking for faith, not even greater faith; he was asking for strength to fight the good fight. He needed strength to believe what he knew to be true of Jesus.
Surely this is why he bristled at Jesus’ rebuke. “If?” Jesus said, “If I can?”
These words cut the man, but notice that he did not spend time justifying his unbelief. He did not argue from the obvious failure of Jesus’ disciples. Instead he affirmed what had been true all along, “I do believe!” He did believe, but discouragement and doubt were warring for his soul. This weakened his faith.
Thank God there is help for such unbelief in faith. Thank God there is patience and grace for those who stand somewhere between the practical realities and the unseen power of our God who can do “all things.” “Everything is possible for him who believes” (v. 23). And for we who doubt there is patience, grace, and still, the power of God. The man’s faith was weak, but Jesus worked non-the-less.
Thank God that He is not hindered by our weak faith. Thank God that He is patient and nurtures our infant faith. Thus it is said of Jesus, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” (Isaiah 42:3, Matthew 12:20). If you faith too is like a bruised reed, if it is like a smoldering wick, take heart; He will not break you or stuff out your smoldering faith. On the contrary, He will strengthen you and fan your weak faith into a flame.
“Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation” (Isaiah 25:9).
If God chooses to work, it is then not a matter of if He can, but a matter of where and how. He may choose not to heal, or he may choose to confound even our timid faith.