“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
One of the best gifts I gave my kids, according to them, was the freedom to doubt and question their faith.
This may seem counter-intuitive. But sometimes faith is a muscle, which strengthens when you push against it. My children have learned that just asking questions will not destroy their faith, and that God loves them just as much when they are wrestling with doubt as when they’re calm and assured. Our family tried to live out Jude 1:22: “Be merciful to those who doubt.” I firmly believe that each of us needs to question and test our faith in order to make it our own. And kids (well, everyone) needs to know that they are deeply loved, even when they don’t feel particularly faithful.
When the Bible mentions faithfulness, it is not primarily our ability to believe that it extols (although of course we are encouraged to believe and have faith). Most often, the text reminds and reassures us of the faithfulness of God. And overall, the Bible encourages us to wrestle with God, to ask him tough questions, but to keep on walking forward with Jesus, even when we can’t recognize him.
Even in the Scripture for today’s reading, from Mark 9, Jesus does not condemn a weary man whose faith is weak. Rather, he responds to his request of “help my unbelief” with a miracle.
What situation are you facing right now that is testing your faith? What causes you to doubt? Where are you saying (or do you need to say) “help my unbelief”?
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I remember when my son first expressed doubts about God. He was 9. We had a great talk, and he continued to wrestle with it. Ultimately he found his faith getting strong. As you say, it’s much like a muscle.