Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. “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.”
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Today’s verses give us a glimpse of a conversation between Jesus and a man whose young son had suffered terribly at the hands of demons controlling his body.
Over the years, I have been drawn to this story time and again. I think it’s because I identify with the father in the story. I find it really easy to put myself in his shoes.
As Jesus traveled from place to place, word spread of the many miracles he performed. So it is more than likely that this father, desperate to help his son, had heard of the wondrous things Jesus had done, packed up his boy in a last ditch effort and headed out to see if there was just a chance of a miracle for them, too. I imagine that as a loving father he had for years tried everything within his power to help his son, but to no avail. You can almost hear in his voice the pain and the damage all those years of defeat have caused as he makes his request to Jesus. … “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” These are the words of a man whose hope is clouded by the years and whose heart is burdened with doubt.
But then…Jesus! Jesus begins to rekindle that hope with just a few words.
I love the honesty in the father’s reply. “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief.” There is a part of him that believes. A part that is drawn in by the evidence of all the other miracles. A part that wants to hope. But a part that still wrestles with doubt and is afraid to hope.
On any given day…I feel exactly the same way . I see the evidence of God at work in Scripture and in those around me. I even see it in my own life over the years. I believe it’s true. And some days I am okay. But there are other days when I feel broken and beaten up by life and doubt creeps in. I doubt I’m doing what God wants me to do…I doubt God wants to help me…I doubt that He actually sees and cares about the things that trip me up daily.
But like the father in this account, I am reminded that Jesus already knows all of that, and the cry of my heart becomes the same simple words…I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!. Jesus is just waiting for me to cry out in desperation. He longs to rid my heart of doubt and fill me with His hope as I place my trust in Him for today.