“I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
At one time or another, every saint this side of heaven has reason to cry with the father of the demonized boy, “I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). At different times, in varying degrees, we stumble as we walk the narrow road.
We have indeed come to trust him. In simple faith, we have plunged ourselves beneath Calvary’s cleansing flood. We have looked away from our own works and trusted Jesus alone. We have tasted and seen that he is sweet and his promises true. We may have journals full of stories that prove his faithfulness over and over. We believe in his goodness, truthfulness, promises, love. We trust him.
But at times we waver. We wonder if God really hears our prayers. In the morning, we drowse at his word. Suffering tempts us to become suspicious of his governance. Unanswered prayer makes us unsure of his care. Chronic pain makes us skeptical whether he will help in time of need. We are tempted, as Lot’s wife, to look back.
And such distrust can come upon us subtly, rarely introducing itself properly. We start to sleep in a little more, pray a little less, and avoid seasons of fellowship with other believers. We get lost in our digital devices to numb the still small voice, “Come back to me.” We know we have strayed. We know God has done nothing to deserve our distrust. We sing, “Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus, Oh for grace to trust you more.”
Hardest Thing to Trust
But what are we trusting? Of the litany of things that we trust God for, the hardest to believe from day to day may be God’s love for us in Christ. It is beyond comprehension (Ephesians 3:18–19). It spans from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 103:17). Because of the cross, it does not deflate due to sin (Psalm 103:10).
Though he tells us this himself, we may struggle at times to believe he even likes us. With Moses, too many saints live and die outside of this Promised Land, never tasting the milk and honey that is theirs just beyond the Jordan. While it is the simplest lyrics to sing, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so,” it can be the hardest to trust.
Satan makes sure of this. While he delights to convince the merely polite church-attender, the worshiper of foreign gods, and the secular humanist that God unconditionally loves them, he steals this heavenly bread from the mouths of his true children. He doesn’t want us to know deeply that his steadfast love is better than life (Psalm 63:3). So, he swipes at the ring glimmering from the finger of the God’s Bride.
He tried this with Jesus. No sooner had the words washed over him at his baptism, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased”(Luke 3:22), than Satan tempted him in the wilderness about his sonship, “If you are the Son of God. . .” (Luke 4:3, 9). So he strategizes against us today,
If you are a child of God, why was your child born disabled?
If you are a daughter of the king, why are you still unmarried?
If you really are children, why did your heavenly Father hand you the serpents of miscarriage?
If he is so well pleased with you, why don’t you feel it more often?
The Spirit pours the torrent of God’s love into our hearts (Romans 5:5), while Satan tries to damn them and us.
Tis So Sweet
But praise God, that though the clouds of doubt threaten to block the sun, the clouds cannot diminish the heat of his love by one degree. Our doubts affect experience but not reality. If we are truly in Christ, our fluctuating experience is no match for the evidence he has provided for us.
We no longer have to look to see his love reflected in our circumstances, now we see it exhibited once and for all at the cross: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). There, he crucified every good reason to distrust him. There, from sin and self we cease. There, from Jesus we simply take joy and life and rest and peace.
Oh for grace to trust him more.