Have you ever gone through a difficult time? Sounds like a stupid question doesn’t it? Who hasn’t gone through difficult and trying times? Life is full of struggles, hardships, trials, and tribulations. Often, they leave us staggering from their mighty blow. How we respond in these times will have a great impact on our lives. Thankfully, there is a man in the Bible who is an excellent model of how to handle the difficulties and trying times we face. His story is found in Mark 9.
Mark 9 begins with Jesus, James, John, and Peter climbing to the top of a high mountain. Once on the mountain, far away from the people and difficulties that constantly surrounded them, these men saw Jesus transfigured. Then Moses and Elijah come down from Heaven and spoke to Jesus, and they heard the voice of God speak and tell them to listen to Jesus. It was a spectacular display to see and an awe-inspiring, holy experience.
It had to be tempting to want to never leave such a time of God’s Presence, but there were people at the foot of the mountain who still needed Jesus’ help. Life’s problems, trials and tribulations were still going on below. So Jesus and the 3 disciples made the descent back down the mountain. It is at the foot of the mountain that we meet the man we are going to study. He is going through a horrific problem that would devastate most. He needed Jesus to help his son!
14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet Him. 16 “What are you arguing with them about?” He asked. 17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked Your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
What a tragic situation. This man had to watch his son be attacked, overcome, and mutilated by this demon. It is obvious that this has been going on for some time. He has had to watch his son suffer and he had no way to help him. Now he came to Jesus for help. However Jesus was gone when he came to the disciples, and, although the disciples were doing the best they could, they could do little to help. Actually, it seems they made it worse, because the demon came on the boy and made him convulse again,
When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
This man’s heart is breaking. He can’t take anymore. As many of us do, He cries out to Jesus for help. However, he asks for help in a questioning way. This fact didn’t go unnoticed by Jesus.
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
These words touched the man deeply and he uttered what I believe is the best and most honest prayer in the Bible.
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
What an honest statement! Anyone who has ever gone through a hard time can relate to what this man said. He knows Jesus has the power to set His Son Free. Yet disappointment and the pain of our experiences make us wonder IF God will help us. This man believed, yet he was tired and emotionally drained. In this state of mind, he wondered if Jesus would help him. So he confessed his faith and asks Jesus to give him the hope and strength to continue believing.
I love the fact that Jesus doesn’t rebuke him for his statement. Jesus understood the man’s heartache. He related to his emotional exhaustion. He looked at the man with compassion. Jesus knew the man believed He could help him. So He spoke the words needed to strengthen his faith. The man’s prayer showed he was fully relying on Jesus to give him strength to continue believing. As a result, He saw his son miraculously delivered and set free.
25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, He rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” He said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
This man serves as a model for us all of how we should handle our times of difficulty. I can’t tell you how many times I have personally prayed this prayer. Many times I have struggled to believe God would help me. I knew God had the ability and power to help me, but when I am beat up and exhausted by the hardships of life, my faith wavers and I think God won’t help me and I’ll be stuck in my situation forever.
It is at this time I remember this magnificent prayer and I cry out to God, “I believe You can help me. I believe You have power to set me free from this trial. I believe Your power can get me through this. However, I have a hard time believing You are going to help me. I struggle thinking You are going to let me down. I doubt You will come through for me. Father, I believe, but please help my unbelief!”
Often times, God finds ways to strengthen my faith. I’ll hear a song, read a verse in the Bible, or someone will encourage me. God always finds a way to help my unbelief. I often find myself thanking God for inspiring Mark to put this man’s prayer in the Bible. It truly is an amazing and honest prayer, and it serves as an excellent model of how to pray during hard and difficult times.
What about you. Do you ever find yourself thinking, “God is never going to help me?” Does the situation you are in seem hopeless? Do you feel God is unable to set you free? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Has the pain and heartache of your situation left you struggling for help? I understand the hardships and exhaustion this brings. I encourage you to pray the prayer that this father prayed.
Tell God you believe He has the power to help you, but the burden you are carrying causes you to doubt that He WILL help you. Ask Him for hope and encouragement to continue on. I am sure this is a prayer God will answer. He did it for this father and He has done it for me. He will do it for you, too.
Dear Heavenly Father, You know the trial and hardship I am going through, Father I believe You have the strength and power to move mightily in my life, yet the emotional exhaustion I am feeling causes me to doubt You Will help me. Father I pray the same prayer as the one prayed by the man in this study, “I believe, help my unbelief.”
Give me the hope and strength to continue forward. Provide me with the encouragement I need to keep trusting in You. Father, strengthen my faith in You. In Jesus name, Amen.