The boy’s father answered Jesus, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“ ‘If you can?’ “ said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Mark 9: 22 - 24
As I type this, nearly all public gathering places have been closed – including places of worship. The fear of the virus – as well as the actual virus itself – is raging across the planet. Sparing no one. Millions are losing their livelihoods, businesses are cratering, markets are crashing, savings are evaporating, borders are closing – stranding thousands. As I type this, Amazon has just announced that they will only carry essentials in their warehouses through at least April 5. This will hit tens of thousands of businesses very hard. Even the basics that we take for granted are suddenly scarce. And we have been warned the worst is yet to come. The human toll has hardly begun.
At this moment, I have a large shipment of games that I do not know how to market. Retailers are in no mood to add to their stock and my planned points of contact have gone dark. I have a Christian game, but even churches are not meeting, and many will struggle financially as they may have to keep their doors shut for several weeks. On top of this, my own family may be stuck overseas and unable to return home for a while. And I know that my problems pale next to so many.
So what can we do when we have nowhere to turn? When nothing is in our control?
But what if we do not know if we believe? What if we doubt? How do we know that God will answer our prayer or that He will answer in the way that we want?
Short answer. We don’t. We can’t. Belief is not about whether God will answer in the way that we want. Belief is that God will answer and that His decision will be for the best - maybe not in the way we expect though. Sometimes we need to be humbled. Sometimes we need to ask fervently and be told “no”.
I do not personally subscribe to the “God is our daddy who loves us so much” view. First and foremost, God is our creator, and while He is the essence of love, we can only ever see a small sliver of the bigger picture. We know He sacrificed his Son for us. Beyond that, we must have faith.
In 2 Samuel 12, King David pleaded with God to let his son live, fasting for seven days. Still, the child died. Luke 22 tells us that Jesus prayed to God to “take this cup from me” so that he would not need to be crucified. Jesus was in such distress that his “sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground”. Again, God’s response was “no”.
We all have times when nothing is within our control. When everything is going wrong it is easy to doubt.
When the task seems impossible it is easy to give up. But pray. Pray for belief first. And then pray again.