Have you ever struggled with doubts and unbelief? Have you ever felt bad because you had thoughts that something was impossible? Have you felt condemned because others told you that if you had doubts, God would not answer your prayer? I think we all have had at one time a struggle with unbelief and we have prayed the same prayer that the man who had a demon possessed son prayed in Mark 9:24.
THE "HELP MY UNBELIEF" SCRIPTURE
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"
The Christian faith is not a faith that goes by what we see or what we feel. It is a journey with Jesus Christ along the entire path of our life. It is a relationship not a formula and as such, struggling with unbelief is part of that journey and relationship. So let me try to encourage you today as you are working through that struggle, that your honesty and transparency will be what actually gets you over your unbelief and onto a path that just knows that God will do what He says.
THE PROCESS OF OVERCOMING UNBELIEF
The Mustard Seed and the Leaven
31 Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”
33 Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”
In both of these parables Jesus gives the example that growth in the Kingdom of Heaven is a process. Jesus on many occasions compared faith to a mustard seed.
Increase Our Faith
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.”
6 The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea,’ and it would obey you!
Now on the surface, you would think that Jesus did not answer their request. He did not tell them how to increase their faith but how to tell if they had faith. However when you look at the passage in Matthew, you see that Jesus is reminding them of how faith grows by using the example once again of the mustard seed.
STAGE ONE - UNSURE OF EVERYTHING
When you first become a Christian, you do not have a lot of experience trusting God and having faith that He will do things for you. You are like a kid being taught how to ride a bicycle. When I was first learning how to ride a bicycle, the last thing on my mind was how to do wheelies, or to make jumps. My first thought was just keeping balance and not falling down. It is the same way when you are working through your unbelief. You believe God is real, and you believe that Jesus came and entered your heart and forgave your sins, but you are not sure if you can believe for much more than that. It is only after spending time getting to know Jesus and how deep that relationship can go that you grow into believing that He will help you do wheelies and jumps. This is the position that the man who prayed the "help my unbelief" prayer was in. He had just met Jesus.
STAGE TWO - THINKING YOU KNOW MORE THAN YOU DO
Later in life, when I was 15, I thought I knew how to drive a car. I read the drivers manual from the DMV and had sat in the driver's seat practicing the pedals and the gears. Yet I had never really driven yet. I was convinced I knew how without any practical experience. I remember one of my first driving lessons. We were at our local neighborhood grocery store and my stepfather said He was going to let me drive. I was so excited!!!! I got into the drivers seat, looked both ways, pressed the gas pedal, popped the clutch and we shot out into the middle of the street! I am sure I took 10 years off my stepfathers life. So much for thinking I knew how to drive.
It is the same way in our spiritual life. We get a little bit of knowledge of God and the scriptures and the first thing we do is that we think we know more than we do. Those people that condemned you for having doubts and struggling with unbelief are those that really have not yet driven themselves. They only think they know how to walk in faith.
MATURITY AND EXPERIENCE WILL HELP YOU OVERCOME UNBELIEF
It has now been almost 34 years since I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. During those years there has been many times I have had to go to the Lord and pray "Lord I believe, help my unbelief". You see, it is not about believing for answered prayer, or believing for financial providence, or believing for healing. All those things can and will come, but it is about believing in the trustworthiness and integrity of Jesus and who He has been all of the years you have known him.
Many faith preachers who condemn people who struggle with unbelief miss a very important point when they quote this scripture in Hebrews.
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
They focus on the first part of the verse that says it is impossible to please God without faith. What they fail to do is go with the explanation that the writer of the book of Hebrews gives. It gives a definition of what faith looks like. Faith sincerely seeks Him! It is not about things. It is not about what we see. It is not about how we feel. It is about whether or not we are and have been developing a relationship with Him.
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord . “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
You see, as much as you might think you know what is best, the reality is that you do not know what is best for your life. So, real faith places it's trust in the Lord for the outcome. Lord I believe in you. I will seek you with my whole heart. Help me with my unbelief. Help me to trust that you know best.
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