17 One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. 18 And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid.* So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.” 19 Jesus said to them,* “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 20 So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth. 21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” 23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” 24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
One of the lessons that the Lord has been teaching me in this life is that there is still a lot of growing to go in my faith. Spending time with the Savior will reveal your spiritual shortcomings. Here is a man who looks at the Lord and utters the words “if you can” how often do we come with our doubt? Jesus responds by reminding him of necessity of faith to which he responds: “I believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” I am fascinated by this faltering faith statement. At first it just seems like a foolish contradictory statement yet this man manages to summarize in one sentence, what is probably the greatest obstacle to spiritual growth, faltering faith. This man was saying that although he believed in what Jesus was able to do, he was still dealing with doubt. Here is a man facing up to his faltering faith and being:
Even though he doubted, he still dared to be real and responded honestly to Jesus’ hard and humbling question “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” It’s easy to criticize this father’s faith but at least he didn’t fake it. What good would it have done him to claim a complete and perfect faith when Jesus already knew the feebleness of his faith? We may not have the faith to move mountains or to fully see the unseen, but if we will humble ourselves and be honest about our faltering faith we might see our families become free. Here was a father who didn’t fake it when the freedom of his family was on the line. What if we were willing to admit where we were and were willing to learn and hang in during these hard times? Honesty with our doubts can lead to the discovery of a deeper faith. Trials and temptations, difficulties and defeat can be either the food of faith or the faltering of it. Yet doubts can lead us to discovery as we search for answers. If we would stop long enough to look back on our lives we would realize that it is often only after a time of doubt and questioning that we grew in faith. Most of us want the comfortable and convenient yet how do you grow faith when everything is fine? It’s easy to rest on the foundation of faith when things are favorable, but it’s only when tragedy and trials and the hurt of heartache come that we find what our faith is really made of. Having faith that is strong like steel takes heat to harden and temper it. Many of us try to manage our doubt instead of letting it motivate us to move past the answers into a deeper discover of the Almighty. If we would stop denying our doubt and admit our questions of uncertainty we could step through the door of doubt into discovery. Why do we feel the need to try and manage our misgivings? What if we were willing to admit we don’t have the answers?
The good news is that when we face up to our faltering faith, when we admit it, that is, when we give God room to do only what He can do. Notice that Jesus didn’t say: “Sorry, you don’t have enough faith.” or “Muster up some more faith and come back later.” No Jesus responded and restored. We need to be honest with our doubts. It is only when we stop faking and start facing that we can grow in deeper faith. His honesty led to:
“When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to him, ‘You deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him, and enter him no more!’ Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, ‘He is dead!’” Here is an example of Satan and his evil servants’ determination to destroy. They seek to possess, control, and destroy. “Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose” What they seek to ruin Jesus resurrects and restores, the young man became normal. The demons lost control in the presence and power of the Lord. This is what Jesus does in response to faith, even a little faith, He frees and liberates what is lost.
Today when it comes to your faith do you need to fess up and be honest? Which is the greater sin, faltering in our faith or faking our faith? Even bold believers have times of doubt. John the Baptist in Matthew 11:1-6 had a bout with doubt, Jesus didn’t condemn Him for it instead He reassured him. I am acutely aware of my doubting questions over the years: Are you real? Do you really care about me? Will you really provide? If you do care, why did this happen to me!” God is not threatened by your doubts, He delights in increasing the faith of His children, so be honest and experience His healing.