“I believe; help my unbelief!” I’ve been thinking about these words from Mark 9:22-24 for the last few days. In the passage, a father brings his son who is sick to Jesus to heal.
Father: “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Jesus: “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”
Father: “I believe; help my unbelief!”
This past Sunday, the Confirmation class met with the Session and presented their faith statements. Three of the four Confirmands who have taken the class this year have decided to be confirmed. These youth have made thoughtful decisions, and their statements reflected the seriousness with which they took the process. The Session warmly received these new members, and we look forward to their Confirmation on Sunday, June 1.
But one Confirmand did not feel comfortable completing the process. She wrote a statement about her journey, but felt that in the end it wasn’t right for her to join the church. She still had doubts about God and faith. I admire her strength of character for not going along and faking it, but I also hope that we have planted the seeds she needs for her faith to grow.
But if we’re honest, I think that is the tension we all live in. “I believe; help my unbelief.” There are some times that believing comes very easily, and other times that it feels like we’re just going through the motions. There are some doctrines and tenets of the faith that it’s easy to ascribe to, and others that cause us to pause.
So how do we help our unbelief? How do we nurture the seeds already planted in our questioning Confirmand? What do I even say to her about knowing God?
There is no magic answer. No way for me to say, “Stand on your head at the full moon and sing ‘Jesus Loves Me.'” That won’t help our unbelief.
What does help is showing up. Showing up for worship, showing up for mission work, showing up at teachable times, showing up when two or three are gathered, showing up to the Bible, showing up for prayer, showing up in relationships with people who love God and are willing to walk with you through your unbelief.
Because nothing is going to happen without the showing up. Seeds don’t grow without water and light. You can’t simply tell the seed to grow and have it grow. Well, unless you’re Jesus, because I’m pretty sure he could do that. But he wouldn’t. Because he knows that the process and ingredients of growth are just as important as the fully grown plant.
These words are a confession of faith. The faith confessed may be more like a seedling than an oak tree, but it is still faith. And every oak had to start off as a seed.
I believe; help my unbelief!