The Relatable Confession of an Everyday Man

The Bible is filled with inspiring faith statements. Consider these. Convinced of Jesus as the Messiah, Martha confessed, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.”1 Confident of His power and authority, the Roman centurion pleaded of Jesus, “Lord … just say the word, and my servant will be healed.”2 Shedding his doubts before his risen friend, Thomas proclaimed simply, “My Lord and my God!”3 All of these faith declarations embolden us to stand before all heaven and earth and proclaim the goodness of our God and the lordship of His Christ. Yet perhaps the most relatable faith confession of all is this humble plea from the desperate father of a tormented son—“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”4

Don’t you love it when someone unsnarls our tangled thoughts and articulates them so succinctly? In eight short words, this everyday man confessed three shared truths. First, he didn’t let his doubts deceive him into thinking he had no faith at all or beating himself up for not having more, rather he rightly confessed the measure of trust he did have. His remains a powerful example for us all. Then perhaps it was in the faith he did have that he also recognized his unbelief, openly acknowledging it before Jesus. He did not let his doubts drive him from the presence of Christ, rather he drew near to Jesus in the faith he possessed, trusting Him with the truth of his weakness. Finally, this humble father asked Jesus to help him do what he could not do in his own power or understanding: “help me overcome my unbelief.” In faith, the man prayed against his doubts. After all, isn’t prayer simply speaking with God, whether He lives among on the earth in the flesh or dwells within us from His heavens through His Spirit?

We all struggle with unbelief to some degree, for there is a tempter hell-bent on luring us away from the obedience of faith and into the rebellion of doubt, from trusting in God’s will to exerting our own. These are completely at odds, for “The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.”5 So, we have a choice: we can follow temptation away from God and into troubling doubt and despair, or we can take our doubts to God in confession of his saving power and love. The desperate, humble father—this most relatable man—still points us to latter: the way of faith, confession and trust. Shall we join him?

Father, I believe; help me overcome my unbelief. Deliver me from the temptation to doubt, and grace me to live today in total trust in You, for You are good in all Your ways. In Christ I pray. Amen.

1 John 11:27
2 Matthew 8:8
3 John 20:28
4 Mark 9:24
5 Galatians 5:17


Trusting in the Unseen Hands

When I was a boy, my older half-brother Gregg would occasionally become gymnastics apparatus for us younger neighborhood children. As he lay on his back with his bent knees pointing skyward, we would take turns running toward him like a gymnast approaching the vault, place both hands on his knees and hurl our feet up and over our heads, our momentum carrying us forward. Then at the right fraction of a second, Gregg would catch our oncoming shoulders in his hands and propel us the rest of the way forward over his head. Completing our flip, our feet would descend back to earth and we’d stick the landing. I must confess that, though convinced of Gregg’s ability and reliability, for quite some time I watched others entrust themselves to the safety of his hands before I dared to do the same. Therein lay the difference between belief and faith.

We can acknowledge God to be everything He claims to be—this would be belief. Yet faith goes farther than mere intellectual assent: faith acts on belief. In faith, we entrust ourselves entirely to God, His character, and His promises, for in the Biblical meaning of the word, “faith” is inseparable from entrustment. Only in faith do we place ourselves entirely in the hands of the capable and reliable God, believing His promises, doing what He inspires us to do and venturing where He leads us to go. In fact, the Bible often commends what Paul calls “the obedience that comes from faith”1—free and secure in the reality of who God is, we eagerly join Him as He works through us to love the people around us. In this way, “faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”2

So what might God call you to do today in faith? Beckon you to rest in the assurance of His love for you? Grace you to extend to another the forgiveness you have received from Him? Will God urge you to share a story of His work in your life, or to give of your time and/or funds to someone who needs either or both? Will the Spirit inspire you to pray with someone who needs hope? You may already know His call for you today, or you may recognize it as it unfolds before you. Regardless of His call, may we respond in faith, throwing ourselves into the reliable hands of the unseen God.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9).

Father, help me to leave doubt behind and to cast myself upon You in faith today. Strengthen me to trust and obey You. In Christ I pray. Amen.

1 Romans 1:5
2 Hebrews 11:1 NLT


Trusting in His Character

The elderly woman recalled the time when she was a little girl and the circus was coming to town. Her father promised to take her, and when the big day of the big top arrived, she waited in eager anticipation for him to come for her. And she waited. And waited. He never came. More than 75 years later, she cried as she told the story, for the pain of a father’s promise broken and a child’s hope dashed still ran deep. I wondered how that one single letdown—seemingly small in the scope of life, but then again not in the life of one so small—affected her ability to trust others or her willingness to hope for good things in life.

Letdowns naturally lead to shutdowns. The world is filled with imperfect people, and in their imperfection, they hurt us, just as we with our flaws harm them. Then rather than risk more pain, we close off part of ourselves; trust itself—perhaps even our faith in God—becomes a casualty. Yet the character of God is different than our own: He is the One who pursues us, like a father eagerly scanning the horizon for his wayward child. He doesn’t forget us or break His promises, for faithful is His character. Hear His appeal through the prophet Isaiah: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”1 How encouraging this promise! How flawless the integrity of Him who utters it!

Sometimes it may feel as though God lets us down. I remember as a young boy, for instance, praying for my father to survive a heart attack, but he didn’t. Crushed, I became distrustful of God and eventually very angry with Him. Yet over time God has opened my eyes to see His incessant presence in my life, even when I failed Him or blamed Him for failing me. I’ve come to realize He is constantly preparing His people for life in His presence—steadily burning away our earthly desires and shifting our focus toward the marvels of a new heaven and a new earth. And when this “big top” comes to town, Jesus will be there to take us with Him, just as He promised: “After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am.”2 He will be there for us, for He is faithful. We can trust Him.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deuteronomy 31:8).

Father, though people let us down, You will not. Forgive us for ever doubting Your goodness, faithfulness and love. We trust You with our lives. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Isaiah 49:5
2 John 14:3