And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:20–24 ESV)
This father is an example of many of us I would guess. He wanted so much for his son to be healed. From birth his boy was deaf and suffered from severe convulsions. The man brought his son to the disciples of Jesus hoping that they would be able to heal him. They were unable. The skeptical man then comes directly to Jesus and says, “if you can do anything, have compassion on us.” Jesus responds, “IF”? Then he gives the man another truth to believe in; “all things are possible for one who believes.” You can almost see the man on his knees, lifting up both hands to Jesus, and saying over and over, “I believe, I believe, I believe…but……help my unbelief.”
Jesus does indeed help the man’s unbelief, yet I would imagine it was surely tested moments later. The boy begins convulsing on the ground, Jesus rebukes the unclean spirit that has bound the boy for life, and the spirit leaves. The boy lay lifeless on the ground. Everyone in the crowd thought the boy had died. How much do you think this moment was challenging the man’s belief? Jesus kneels down to the boy and grabs his hand. The boy opens his eyes and is helped by Jesus to stand upon his own feet. This action is how Jesus helped the father’s unbelief. No doubt both the father and the boy were changed for life.
This account is not merely written down in the Bible for us to be entertained by. It is written down to help our unbelief. We think that our unbelief would surely be taken away if Jesus rebuked our baby girl’s trisomy 13 chromosome and she came forth from the womb healthy and whole. But that is not the truth this account of father and son is meant to do in our heart. This account is intended to strengthen our faith in the Jesus who did heal this boy’s horrible condition, and who did heal this father’s unbelief. This account is intended to strengthen our faith in the Jesus who will someday bring complete healing to my baby girl’s horrible condition, and who will bring complete healing to our unbelief. He will destroy every hint of my unbelief, every hint of my sin, every hint of our sickness, every hint of that which keeps me from my Jesus.
Lord Jesus I believe; help my unbelief!