One of the glaring facts of the Christian faith is the struggle to believe. It is the struggle to believe that what we read or hear about God is true. Today, many Christians are struggling to believe in God again. When we are struggling to believe God, our faith begins to experience an earthquake.
Even many Christians who openly affirm and confess their faith in God, are struggling to believe what God says. They may not openly say it but they are moving with the burden inside. Sometimes, many of us who even carry the word of God by heart have this heavy struggle of “if what we believe is real”.
Many of us undergo a crisis of faith internally. That is why they were once faithful and prayerful but now the opposite is the case. Our faith in God is going into extinction. So many of those who were once so zealous about the things of God are now tired.
The reason is that they are undergoing an internal crisis that is convincing them that God is not real or that God is not answering prayers.
Some people even believe that God hates them or that God can never answer their prayers because of a particular mistake they made. Also when problems come, their faith is greatly challenged. Do you belong here?
Sometimes the depth of faith is revealed when temptation comes. Many people today are struggling in their faith. Despite how we want to hide it, there are so many things that continually keep us worried and overthinking our lives.
Today, when problems and challenges come, we begin to doubt God. When our prayers are not answered the way we want, we feel we have wasted our time in the presence of God for so long. We then struggle with our faith. We struggle to believe.
Then, doubting God seems to throw everything off balance. When you’re struggling with faith, it can feel like your life’s purpose, friendships, family relationships, and understanding of the world are all under threat.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the father of a boy who came to Him to seek Healing that everything is possible for the one who believes, we then ask “what do we do when we struggle to believe so that we can as well believe. What can we do to strengthen our faith and keep it intact?
The Gospel Digest,
Immediately, Jesus and the three apostles who witnessed the transfiguration; Peter, James and John came down from the mountain and rejoined the disciples, they saw a large crowd around the disciples, with some scribes who were arguing with them. Immediately the crowd saw Jesus, they were filled with amazement and they ran to greet Him. Here one wonders what has led them in wonder.
There is a possibility here that Jesus’ clothing is still dazzling with white because of the transfiguration experience. Remember in Exodus 34:29-30 when Moses came down from the mountain. His face did not stop immediately but continued. So it could be the same thing is happening here. So Jesus asks what they were arguing about.
Then someone in the crowd announces the problem. He said that He brought His Son to the disciples but no one of them could heal the boy. He asked his disciples to cast out this spirit and they were not able. The disciples could not cast out this unclean spirit. This appears to be the basis for the scribes’ argument. It seems that the disciples are being challenged over their inability.
Jesus also rebukes the disciples for the faithless and ask that they bring the boy to Him.
They brought the boy to Him, and as soon as the spirit saw Jesus it threw the boy into convulsions, and he fell to the ground and lay writhing there, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ ‘From childhood,’ the man replied. The man also said that the spirit has often thrown him into the fire and the water, to destroy him.
He said to Jesus “But if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us”. Jesus replies ‘If you can? For ‘everything is possible for anyone who has faith.’ Immediately the father of the boy cried out, “‘I do have faith. Help the little faith I have!’ And when Jesus saw how many people were pressing around him, he rebuked the unclean spirit.
The man knows that he has faith but is seriously struggling also with His faith and then asks Jesus to help His little faith.
The Problem of today.
Like the man above, many Christians today, though we go to church daily, receive Holy communion, attend prayer sessions are still seriously struggling to believe. This is actually, the problem that makes many Christians just a member to answer present.
This is also the reason many Christians pray but they still take prayers as a waste of time. It is also the reason many Catholics believe that Jesus is the Blessed Sacrament, yet many of us could not pay Jesus a single visit even if it’s one minute. We believe but we do not believe. This is the problem. When we are struggling in believe, prayers become a mechanical activity.
This is the reason, a Christian will enter the church and be busy pressing His phone and enjoying WhatsApp messages even in God’s presence.
It is the reason many Christians lose hope in God when they think that they have prayed but because what they asked is not what they encountered, they drip out of the faith. Our problem today is faithlessness.
You can see that Immediately Jesus hears that the disciples who have been with Him for a long time could not heal the child, Jesus says. “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long will I bear with you?”
Therefore, by these exclamations, Jesus immediately pointed out that lack of faith is the problem. We have to understand that having faith in God has its consequences as well as lack of faith.
It was the disciples’ lack of faith today that made them unwilling to heal the boy. Therefore, when we also decide not to have faith, we also invite the consequences of not having faith. When we also decide to have faith, we invite the positive consequences of having strong faith. Whichever one we choose has its consequences.
Like the disciples today, Jesus is asking us “How long will you not understand? the disciples do not fully understand who Jesus is. The disciples do not have full faith in who Jesus is.
They are confessing Jesus but do not grasp the full meaning of His identity. So here again we see a lack of faith by the disciples. Like the disciples too, we as well know and listen about Jesus. We think we know Him very well. But we still lack faith in Him.
What to Do
Then the question is “what do we do when we struggle with faith.
Seek God’s grace and Intervention.
When we face situations, let us not lose hope. Also, when our faith is challenged is the time to seek the help, grace and presence of God in more. When Peter was sinking in the sea in Matthew 1422-23, Peter raised his hands immediately and asked Jesus to intervene.
Also In today’s gospel, the father of the boy cried to Jesus to help His unbelief. Therefore, that time when we are tempted to lose faith in God is the time to seek His grace more. When we are struggling to believe God, we have to struggle also to seek His presence more. By doing that, our faith will be strengthened.
2. Know that God is Always willing If we are Willing.
We have to know that in everything God is willing. But the problem is: if we are willing. Every condition or situation requires a certain amount of faith, can you be able to stand up in the faith. When the father of the boy came to Jesus, He said“But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Jesus immediately responds in verse 23, “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.”
Therefore, for a miracle to happen, we have to cooperate with God. It is never about what God can do. God is always willing. Therefore, when we are struggling to believe, let us not forget that God is always there willing to help and intervene.
What He needs from us is a little amount of faith. Jesus says that all things are possible for the one who believes. The problem is not divine willingness but human unbelief. Nothing is too great for God. God can do anything. The problem is “do we believe?
3. Never Rely on Your Power Alone.
We struggle to believe in God sometimes because most of us think that what happened to our lives and whatever that is happening to them is because of our power. If we commit everything in God’s hands we will come to terms that he has been good to us.
We seem to believe in ourselves more than we believe what God can do. The disciples could not deliver the child because they believed in their power and not Jesus. They showed a lack of faith. Never rely solely on your power. Give everything to God.
The problem is not with the power, ability, or compassion of God. The problem is us and our lack of faith. Like the man, let us always pray that God will help our unbelief. What we need is more faith. We have faith but we need more faith.
Simone Weil, a French-born Jewish philosopher, died aged 34 in 1943. During her final illness, someone said to her, “I can only pray for you”. Simone answered, “Why do you say, ‘only’? That’s the best thing you can do for me”
We have to believe in the power of prayers and God’s grace.
4. Pray For it.
When the disciples speak privately to Jesus and ask him the reason they could not cast out this unclean spirit. Jesus answers them “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” Here, Prayer is pictured as the avenue to faith.
At prayer, God is the one we communicate with. Therefore, Jesus is teaching the disciples that there are cases they need to hand over to God totally. They can never achieve that through their power alone.
If we need faith, we have to be praying for it. Our Success does not rest on our power. We are not supposed to handle our trials alone. We are not supposed to walk through life independently.
In essence, we need the grace of God when we are struggling to believe God. Let us always go to Him. The man today went to Him and was saved. Jesus is the source and secret of our salvation. Let us go to Him. What we need is faith.
May God have mercy on us and give us the grace to have strong faith in Him. May He never allow you to be defeated. Amen.