Verses fourteen through twenty-nine in the ninth chapter of the book of Mark connect with me, and many other parents, in an intimate way. In just 331 words the disciple Mark relays a story that has had me deep in thought for over a month now.
A father has brought his son to Jesus’ disciples. The father explains that his son is possessed by a spirit and cannot speak. He also explains that his son experiences seizures and falls into the fire frequently.
After the father explains these circumstances to Jesus, he asks him, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Jesus responds by repeating the question: “If you can? Everything is possible for one who believes.” The father responds: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.”
In a moment of painful honesty, the father shares the deepest secret of his heart. He was afraid. This father just wanted his son to be safe. As he got in touch with his own heart he realized that even though he believed in Jesus’ ability to help his son, he was still afraid.
I’m afraid. All I want is for my daughters to be safe. I realize this is a very American way to think. I can’t even drive down I-70 without being reminded of safety. It seems like every five miles there is some kind of sign warning me to slow down, turn off my cell phone or buckle up. I scrutinize every choice my daughters make, looking for the safety rating associated with each decision.
I have spent countless hours in prayer over each of my daughters. Many mornings I could be found kneeling outside a daughter’s door early in the morning with Bible in hand. I can honestly say that I believe that God can help my daughters. I believe it like I believe the sun will rise in the morning. In the middle of my belief is fear.
Today I’m forced to bear my heart just like the father in Mark did. In my personal prayer time, I bear my heart and soul to my Father in Heaven. I ask Him, “If you can, will you help my daughter?” His voice returns to me: “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Through tears I reply, “I believe; help me overcome my unbelief.”