Faith feels effortless during church camp, right? There is something powerful about getting away from distractions, intensely consuming the word of God, worshipping with your friends, and having deep conversations late at night. These moments almost make faith feel easy. Worship songs become personal anthems. Bible verses jump off the page. Prayer transforms into an all-consuming conversation. Just as we hit a peak, we step onto a smelly bus heading for our hometown. Suddenly, the faith of Saturday night doesn’t translate to Tuesday morning.
Sometimes faith flows like a fountain. Other times, faith feels like a fight. You’re wrestling with complex questions while God plays hide-and-seek. If you’ve ever felt this way, then you need to meet a fascinating character in Mark’s Gospel. A father’s faith is hanging on by a thread. He approaches Jesus asking, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground” (8:17-18).
The passage further explains that the evil spirit had caused his son to be suicidally ambitious — throwing himself into fire and water (9:22). This wasn’t just an adolescent phase. The boy had been mentally tormented for his entire life. His family must have been mentally tormented as well. Imagine worrying every day that your son might take his own life. Most parents get to watch their kids develop, grow, and thrive. In agony, these parents saw their son experience suffering, torture, and darkness.
Desperately, this doubting dad pleads, “Help me with my unbelief” (9:24). These aren’t the words of a devout, happy-go-lucky, faith-filled follower of Jesus. Instead, this discussion drips with desperation and doubt. He’s asking for two miracles. First, he wants his child rescued. Second, he wants his faith restored.
Without hesitation, Jesus moves in power. The boy convulses on the ground as a plume of red dust rises around him like steam from a kettle. Suddenly, the madness becomes motionlessness. After an uncomfortable stillness, he rises to his feet, dusts himself off, and smiles wide. This was likely the first time this father had seen his son smile since holding him as a baby. I imagine the two embrace while ugly crying. The son encountered healing, and the father’s faith experienced resurrection.
We can learn a lot from the request of the father. We can believe a lie that following Jesus means having perfect faith all the time. This assumption is dangerous, as it places too much pressure on our own shortcomings. What happens when we doubt? Do we just spiral out? Jesus encouraged this man to begin with the little bit of faith he already had. It was small, but it was a start.
His faith pushed him to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask God to help you grow in your faith. It’s safe to pray, “God I have a little bit of faith, but I have doubts too. Can you help me with my unbelief?” Jesus moves within our desperation and even within our doubt.
What are some places where you’re struggling to trust Jesus? Tell Him right now. Ask Him to help you with your unbelief. Don’t focus on the size of your faith. Focus on the size of your God.