I had a chance to catch up with a friend the other day. He came in town to spend the night as part of a motorcycle trip he was taking throughout the southeast. We spent time talking, enjoying dinner together and introducing him to Shelbyville. It was good to see him and spend time with him.
It was also a little sad, as well. He is struggling in life right now. I had the privilege of baptizing him when he was a teenager and now, he is struggling with his faith. Life hasn’t always been easy for him. Some of it through his own doing and some of it done to him. He’s currently undergoing a painful divorce due to his wife’s infidelity. He’s contemplating moving to another city to get a fresh start. Through it all, his doubts about God have increased and he now identifies as someone who believes there is “someone or something up there” but he’s not sure who or what it is and how it impacts our lives. His doubts are strong fueled by questions about the difficulties of life.
If we are honest, many of us have wrestled with doubt. We may not have doubted God’s existence, or maybe we have, but there have been times when we wonder, “what is going on?”. Why is God allowing this to happen? Why doesn’t He care about my marriage? Why doesn’t He care about my children’s lack of faith? Why doesn’t He care about my health? Why did He allow me to lose my job? Why is there so much pain and suffering in the world? Why is life just so difficult, if He truly loves me?
Doubts creep in as life gets difficult. In the midst of our pain, questions arise, faith wavers, and we begin to wonder, “is God there” and “does He really care?”. My friend is in the midst of a hurricane of doubt. As he looks at the world, he is having a difficult time seeing God. His pain is great. Pain often blinds us from seeing the One who wants to bring us healing. As difficulties pile up and life no longer makes sense, it’s easy to let doubts set in and assail our faith.
In times like these, I’m reminded of the father who encounters Jesus in Mark 9. His son has been possessed with a demonic spirit which is causing his incredible spiritual, emotional and physical pain. He desperately wants his son to be healed, so he turns to Jesus. As Jesus implores him to believe, the father honestly replies, “I do believe. Help my unbelief.”
I believe, Lord. Help me when unbelief sets in. Help me to keep my eyes on you when life gets dark and the way forward is unclear. Help me when I feel alone and that no one cares, including you. Help me to believe when it’s hard to get up because my body is failing. Help me to see you when my marriage is struggling. Help me to believe when the unexpected happens and my heart is filled with grief. Help me to believe when my children are hurting, and I don’t see how you are present. Help me to believe when I see the cruelty and division in our society and the pain it causes countless lives. Help me to believe when doubts come. I believe. Help my unbelief.
I pray that you will continue to believe. I pray for my friend that He will find His way back to the One who loves him more than he will ever know. I pray for myself when doubts come against me.
I believe. Help my unbelief.