Just three weeks ago today my Mom when home to be with the LORD! It was a bittersweet experience as those of us who were with her at the time witnessed the most peaceful transition I have ever observed in my 37 plus years of pastoral ministry.
That night as I lay in bed talking with the LORD and thanking Him for his unchanging faithfulness, and praising Him for taking her to Heaven, a thought suddenly came into my head … “What if it isn’t true!” Immediately I knew where that thought had come from and just as quickly I dismissed the thought as an invasion into my heart and mind by the enemy of my soul! Satan, or one of his vast minions, had projected a doubt into my time of worship and praise! I quoted from scripture, “LORD, I believe; help thou my unbelief!”
That quote is taken from Mark 9:24. The setting is taken from an event associated with the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus and three of His disciples, (Peter, James and John) were descending that mountain when they witnessed the remaining nine disciples in a heated discussion with some local scribes (experts in the law). Jesus approached the scribes and said, “What are you arguing with them about?” I love the way that Jesus so often comes to the defense of His own!
Suddenly a worried father came up to Jesus and explained, “Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.” (Mark 9:17-18)
“And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (emphasis mine) (vv. 21 – 24)
I want to point out that the boy had been tormented by this demon from childhood. Can the children of a believer suffer in anguish over demonic activity? Can demons cause children/young people to cut themselves and mutilate their bodies, even attempt to kill them? Let the Scriptures answer that question as indicated here and in the life of that Godly man, Job!
This, dear friends, is what happens when two worlds collide … the world of faith and the world of doubt! It can happen to any believer, often when least expected. And the doubt is often projected by the Accuser of the Brethren (Satan). Christian, that doubt does not represent your heart toward God … it didn’t come from you! Rather it was strategically planted by the one who has a vested interest in the demise of your faith … the one who has declared war against you (Revelation 12:17).
One of my favorite songs, recorded on my latest CD, is God on the Mountain. The second stanza says,
“You talk of faith, when you’re up on a mountain, but talk comes so easy when life’s at its best. But it’s down in the valley of trials and temptations, that’s when you’re faith is really put to the test.”
I recently read President George W. Bush’s book, Decision Points. In it he talks candidly about his faith and he addresses this issue of faith and doubt.
“Surrendering yourself to an Almighty is a challenge to the ego. But I came to realize that struggles and doubts are natural parts of faith. If you haven’t doubted, you probably haven’t thought very hard about what you believe.”
“LORD, I do believe. Help my unbelief!” was the cry of that troubled father. His honesty is refreshing, don’t you think! It’s an awful feeling to be a parent and helplessly watch your child goes through any kind of sickness. I don’t think there is any feeling as desperately passionate as a parent who cannot help their child. I’ve been in that position and it tested my faith!
It is not God’s intention for us to have doubt and unbelief. But when we do, it certainly is not His intention for us to stay there. However, He can use it for His honor and glory and He can use it to strengthen our faith.
“But the God on the Mountain is still God in the Valley
When things go wrong, He’ll make them right.
And the God of the good times is still God in the bad times
The God of the Day is still God in the Night”