Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
These are tough times; if I read Oprah correctly; if President Obama hadn’t been elected we would have 1930’s style breadlines by now. Instead we have jobless lines, foreclosure lines and food stamp lines. It takes a lot of faith in light of reality to continue to believe when everything around you would suggest otherwise.
The easy part would be to just express my faith from one of my favorite Disney songs “when you wish upon a star.” But that would suggest that faith is just a feeling and there are many examples of people who can exercise faith without any feeling. Faith though is simply believing what God has said. That means we are able to exercise our faith in any situation. We are taking what we know God has said and acting accordingly even if present circumstances tell a different story. When we can or worse won’t then we practice unbelief.
So work with me just a moment. In 2 Corinthians 5:7 scripture tells us to “walk by faith and not by sight.” The Greek word for sight means the external or outward appearance of something. When we make decisions based on sight we are taking the information we or feel without considering what might be happening in the spiritual realm or even behind the scenes. Take this weekend for example the city of Philadelphia called for a snow emergency before the snow started and it caused the cancellation of a NFL football game Sunday night. Many people got downright indignant about the decision but now that the storm has passed it was the right call. The Mayor ignored what people said “could” happened and instead went for the decision to keep the citizens safe. Sometimes our emotions and our circumstances don’t tell us the whole story. That’s why I like Psalm 116 which says, “I kept my faith, even when I said, ‘I am greatly afflicted.’” Real faith can hear God’s promise, see no sight of it and yet still believe he’s going to carry it out.
So how do you get beyond the unbelief? There are at least three ways to get:
• Ask for it – Think back to the verse at the top of the page, the father of the demonized boy is freaking out and in a very honest and desperate moment tells him that he does belief and to forgive him of his unbelief. I love it the work for help in this passage means “to bring aid, especially in time of difficulty.” Essentially he was asking Jesus for a faith bailout! And you can too.
• Hang around people who have faith – I like the story of David and Jonathan from I Samuel 23:16, “Saul’s son Jonathan came to David at Horesh. He strengthened David’s faith in the LORD.” David got his faith strengthened by God through someone else. God can do it directly but he doesn’t always so find someone who knows how to encourage and build up your faith. Then spend some time with them
• Get into God’s word – We tend to forget the basics but Romans 10:17 is plain, “faith comes by hearing and hearing from the word of God.” How can you believe someone if you’ve never heard what they said? I know that God often speaks directly but we need to be in the word in order to help judge when God does speak and to ‘prime the pump’ and help us hear in more subjective ways. I find that when people say they don’t hear the voice of God it’s due to a lack spending time in the scripture.
When you make out your New Years resolutions let me suggest you put faith at or near the top of the list. We need faith and more of it. If we don’t have it God has provided ways for us to get it.
O God and Father, I repent of my sinful preoccupation with visible things. The world has been too much with me. You have been here and I knew it not. Make my faith simple like the manger couple. Make my faith strong like the shepherds. Make my commitment abiding and strong. And teach me to sing with angels. Amen.