Help thou mine unbelief.
October 30, 2014
This is what the frightened father said to Jesus regarding his epileptic son, after the Master had reassured him that all things are possible to him who believes. The disciples had not been able to heal the boy. Was Jesus now suggesting that it was the father’s unbelief that was the problem? No, of course not. Jesus didn’t respond with a reprimand, or doctrine, or even encouragement. He simply healed the child and returned him to his grateful father. (Mark 9:17-29)
Doesn’t it seem that we sometimes find ourselves in a similar situation? We yearn to trust. We hope our faith will be firm. Yet doubt fills our hearts. We can’t seem to get beyond our own unbelief. But there is a way to move forward, to find peace and healing.
It’s important to note Jesus’ response to his disciples’ query as to why they could not heal the boy. He replied, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” Since John the Baptist’s disciples commented that Jesus didn’t fast (see Luke 5:33 for example) it’s not likely he would consider not eating a solution. And he said as much in the Sermon on the Mount, admonishing, “take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink…” (Matt 6:25)
Perhaps the Master was suggesting a kind of fast from fearful and negative thoughts and behaviors, much like Isaiah reports God as saying: “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” (Chapter 58, verse 6) Could it be that refusing to mentally and spiritually consider any enslaving thought, coupled with heartfelt prayer, was the necessary preparation for the kind of healing Jesus expected?
Mary Baker Eddy, in her discussion of this Bible story, offers this definition of fasting: “refraining from admitting the claims of the senses.” (Miscellany p. 222) And she called the prayers of Jesus “deep and conscientious protests of truth.” (Science and Health p. 12) These two explanations show the Christly altitude of Jesus’ outlook as well as what he was striving to impart to his students. They would eventually learn this lesson and successfully heal and save others as he did.
We can benefit from this scriptural teaching as well. We can recognize the sensational stories of fear and pain and resist them. We can rely on the comforting presence of the Christ to shift thought to a more divine perspective, where healing can occur safely and naturally. Unbelief doesn’t stand a chance once thought begins to move.
And rest assured. The love of God is big enough and full enough and close enough to help you do this. For with God all things are possible.