Faith. Jesus spoke a great deal about it. He commended people who had it, and reproached those who didn’t. Faith, the Bible tells, is the requirement to be saved. But more than that, it must infuse our daily lives, for the just shall live by faith (Rom 1:17).
How does living by faith look? I like the word picture created by the Amplified Bible in Psalm 28, which likens faith to leaning yourself on God: “The Lord is my Strength and my impenetrable Shield; my heart trusts in, relies on and confidently leans on Him, and I am helped.” (Ps 28:7)
Am I doing this? It’s hard to tell in my comfortable life, where all my needs are supplied. Even in areas where I struggle, I probably still lean on my own resources before I lean on God. If I am honest, I would have to say that my faith is lacking.
But here is where one of my favourite bible verses gives me hope. It might just be the most honest thing anybody ever said to Jesus. Let’s take a peek into the scene:
It’s hopeless. I don’t know why I even bothered to come looking for this Rabbi everyone is talking about. Deep in my heart I knew another person saying another prayer would be useless. Hasn’t every rabbi from here to Jerusalem tried to do that already? Hasn’t every physician who has ever seen my son declared him a hopeless case? But fool that I am, I came, and here we are right at the centre of the growing crowd as this man’s disciples shout for the demon to leave Reuben alone, and the teachers of the law rebuke them for it. Reuben is convulsing on the ground, and all I want to do is grab him and take him away from all these gaping stares. Freak-show over, people! Leave us alone!
Suddenly the crowd’s attention seems to shift. I hear the whisper pulsating through the throng—Jesus—and look up to see the Rabbi approaching. The crowd grows quiet and I hear his soft voice ask: “What’s all the arguing about?”
As his disciples point to us, he gazes intently at Reuben and—for an instant—I sense a fearsome power in that glance. My son is suddenly thrust to the ground by a new convulsion, more violent than any I have ever seen. But strangely the Rabbi hardly gives him another glance; instead he turns to me and asks me about my son.
So I tell him about all the years of torment as the dark presence stole away my son’s words and mind, and now seems to be demanding his very life. And given that I’ve come all this way, I decide I might as well ask for his help too, although even I can hear my plea carries little conviction: “Please help us, Rabbi. Do something if you can.”
“What do you mean ‘if I can’? He looks at me sharply. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
“I do believe, Rabbi!” What would be more truthful is to say that I’ve never wanted to believe more, so I add: “Help me not to doubt.”
He nods and a slight smile forms on his lips. Then he speaks to the dark spirit, not with the screams and shouts I am so used to. No, he just speaks. But the words are full of such authority that a wave of cold ripples through my body. Reuben convulses one last time as a high, angry scream escapes from his lips. Then he falls back to the ground, unmoving. A murmur ripples through the crowd and I hear the voices whisper: ‘he is dead.’ But I know it’s not true, even before the Rabbi lifts Reuben, and my son looks at me with eyes that are clear and joyful and full of innocent life again. In that moment I know that this man is more than a Rabbi. The One who touched both Reuben’s spirit and my own unbelief, can only be God himself.
“I do believe. Help me not to doubt.” I know this whole story is remarkable, reflecting all of Jesus’ deity and power. Yet my favourite part is that one line: help me not to doubt. It shows me that as long as I am honest with God and bring him all my limitations—in my faith, in my love, in my witness, in every part of my life—He can do something about it.
Andrew Murray wrote: “Few have understood what a perfect Saviour Jesus is, and how He will each day do for the sinner just as much as He did the first day he came to Him.”
Oh, how wonderful those words sound to someone who has glimpsed a little of their own faithless heart!
(The account of Jesus healing the demon-possessed boy is found in Mark 9)
If you enjoyed reading this step-into-the-bible devotional, you might also enjoy reading Dust Drawings