A story in Mark 9 tells of a centurion who approaches Jesus. He asks Jesus to heal his son who is suffering from an unclean spirit. Jesus asks about the phrase he used, though, which implied a lack of faith. The father said “if you can,” and Jesus wanted him to have faith, which by definition is unapologetic (meaning it needs no justification, not that it is unquestioning). The centurion cried out, “I believe, help my unbelief!” Jesus healed his son, but the man’s faith was in need of some help. Many of us are in the same boat, and those who say that they aren’t are sure to doubt at some point.
Most of us have been raised in a church or society where uncertainty is frowned upon. It is tempting to say that faith is unquestioning, but that just isn’t true. Faith is like courage. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it is the ability to act in spite of it. Faith is not the absence of doubt, but the ability to see through the doubt and act in spite of it. We should never ignore our doubts, because that isn’t faith, that’s ignorance. If you struggle to believe, I say good for you. The next step is not to ignore, the next step is to search.
Pray for your own belief, even if you don’t fully believe in prayer. Ask your questions, let your faith be shaky. When Peter doubted and started to sink in Matthew 14:30, he cried out and Jesus saved him. Jesus asked him why he doubted, but He never let him drown. Your faith will grow and become secure despite your worries and fears and doubts, because Jesus will keep you from drowning in those doubts.
You hear of those Christians who have lost their faith, and you may be thinking that Jesus abandoned them, but the fact is that Jesus is waiting for them to cry out to them. If they never do, Jesus is still patient. Jesus gave his life for us, what more can he do? He never abandons us, even when we feel like we’ve entered the long, dark night of the soul. The fact is that He entered our suffering, shame, and doubts with us and He’ll carry us when we give up.
The ultimate point of Jesus’ coming was not to give us rules and condemn our unbelief, but it was to help our unbelief, to grab our hands and pull us out of the water, and to take our suffering and shame upon himself. Nothing you or this world can do will ever keep Jesus from wanting you. He will save you, He will help your unbelief.
But none of this is a magical phrase that you say to live in ignorant bliss. You will still have doubts and questions, because that is what this world is best at creating: doubt. Do not stop acknowledging those doubts, because then your faith will crumble as you deceive yourself. Let yourself start to doubt honestly and let Jesus hold your hand through it.
”I believe, help my unbelief!”