“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24, NIV)
Mark tells us of an event where Jesus encounters a man whose son has a demon. After the disciples’ lack of success in casting out the demon, the boy’s father implores Jesus saying, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” I don’t know why, but I always think that Jesus was a bit perturbed when he responds, “If you can?” It’s as if I hear Jesus saying, “What do you mean IF I can?” But how often do we approach God, just as this man did?
This year, we approach the fifty-fifth General Council of the Assemblies of God with the theme “Believe.” I expect that this theme will carry us into our 2014 centennial as we evaluate our present, examine how God has done great things in our past, and anticipate the hand of God in our future. As we do this I have to ask, do we come to Jesus as the man in Mark 9? Do we come to Jesus questioning his abilities? I think the true essence of belief is trust in God’s ability—not necessarily that He will act according to our desires.
It is clear that Jesus explains to the boy’s father that everything is possible for one who believes. I think that is very important for us to understand. All of these things are POSSIBLE. So does this mean that if they are possible, Jesus will come through for me in precisely the way I asked? Can faith be theorized in this way? The point is, I don’t believe you can quantify faith.
In issues of faith, we must trust in God’s ability even if He does not come through in the way we hope He will. The greatest example of belief in God, in my opinion, appears in Daniel 3, when the three Hebrews are thrown into the fiery furnace. They begin declaring God’s ability to deliver them from harm (v. 17a). Then they express their belief that God will deliver them (v. 17b), but they also recognize the possibility that God just might let them die (18). They had faith in God’s ability to deliver them, even if he chose not to do so. Let us always see this as an example of faith to follow.
Our belief in God should never function as blind faith. Our present belief in God for the future should be predicated upon the demonstration of his power in the past. This “past” can be recent or distant, for both provide testimony to God’s power.
We will spend the next three blogs evaluating our present, examining the past, and looking expectantly to the future in order to strengthen our belief in what God can do.
May we be encouraged and expectant for God to move mightily as we reflect on his powerful acts in the past, and reassured of His ability to act in our future!