Help My Unbelief

Help My Unbelief

Reading the Bible does not come easy to me. I have years of baggage to unpack regarding this one book, and for a year, maybe, I just had to take a break.

Before you decide that I’m a terrible heathen, let me be clear: I love Jesus. And all that time I was still going to church and trying to follow Him.

For years I read the Bible because I believed I “had to” and that if I did, life would turn out okay for me. I followed what I thought was the rule: read your Bible every day and God will be so pleased with you He won’t let anything bad happen to you. This was my interpretation.

I discovered in a hard way that it doesn’t work like that. So, I took a break from the Bible.

But in the past couple of months, I have wanted to return to the readings, not because I have to but because I want to. I want to know what Jesus says. I want to refresh my memory about his life on earth.

So I started with the book of Mark. Short. To the point.

And still, I am stunned by what I read.

Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash

This passage in Mark 6 was particularly challenging. Jesus had been traveling around and performing miracles, healing people physically, mentally and spiritually, and when he comes to the place where he was raised, he offends people with his teaching.

And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them.

This troubles me for many reasons.

What did the people of Nazareth miss out on because all they could see was the Jesus they knew in the past?

How is belief connected to miracles?

What am I missing because of my unbelief?

Now, I do not believe that if we simply believe that something will happen it will. It is not clear to me how any of this happens. It is less a formula and more a mystery and I’m learning to be okay with that. And maybe it’s not that I need to believe in the miracle but believe the One who brings the miracle.

Do I believe that God can provide for our family’s needs when we face one obstacle after another?

Do I believe that God is trustworthy when He is leading us in a direction that does not always make sense?

Do I believe that Jesus will not abandon us when we wander off the path? Do I believe He loves us even when we make terrible decisions?

I want to answer “yes” to these questions but it is so much easier for me to spiral into despair. When the savings balance dwindles and there are bills to pay, I begin to doubt. When we take steps of obedience and fall flat on our faces, I question whether we heard correctly. When I go my own way, I’m sure that God is finished with me.

Time and again, God woos me with His goodness. If I open my eyes even a little, I start to see evidence of Him all around.

Later in Mark (I haven’t gotten there yet but I remember) Jesus will tell a father that anything is possible if a person believes. The man utters, “I do believe! Help my unbelief!”

These are the truest words I think I have ever read. They speak to my heart and I am so glad the Gospels contain records of these sorts of things.

Mark could have decided that this was not clear enough or polished enough to be in a message to the people who did not walk with Jesus. But it’s in there. And Jesus does not tell the man to buck up and believe harder. He goes about his miracle business.

This is my prayer, then, these days: I do believe; help my unbelief.

I hope I don’t miss what Jesus wants to do.

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Lisa Bartelt About Lisa Bartelt

Lisa has been writing stories for more than a decade, first for newspapers and now as a freelancer, blogger and budding novelist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two kids. Read more at her blog, Beauty on the Backroads.

Comments

  1. To survive someone with cancer or another difficult illness, check out this post. Lisa Bartelt gives us a good one on unfelief.

    [Reply]

  2. I pray those words so often, and have the same gratitude that they’re in the Bible! And I think if, we were all honest, we would find that many believers wrestle with the same doubts and baggage. Thanks for being transparent.

    [Reply]

  3. My heart goes out to you.
    You have been so faithful in spite of the feelings you have shared.
    Is Jesus disappointed in you? I don’t think so. He knows how frail we are.
    I will add my prayers to yours to help your unbelief.

    [Reply]

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