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I Believe; Lord, Help Mine Unbelief

And Jesus said to him, ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, I believe; help my unbelief!’

Mark 9:24, ESV

Sometimes I think that I’ve reached a stage in my walk at which I never doubt His ability to do. Rather, I sometimes — many times if I’m truthful — doubt His desire to do. It’s His character and not His power which gives me pause. It’s unreasonable really, and it reveals more about my level of trust than anything else. Has He ever shown Himself unkind or unjust or unloving to me? My knowledge and my faith boldly say, “No.” But then comes my heart — my sinful, erring, treacherous heart — whispering, “Yes. He was unkind and unloving to send this particular trial to me.”

In his book, A Grief Observed, CS Lewis highlighted this tension.

The terrible thing is that a perfectly good God is in this matter hardly less formidable than a Cosmic Sadist. The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed—might grow tired of his vile sport—might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless. But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us? Well, take your choice. The tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren’t. Either way, we’re for it.

CS Lewis in A Grief Observed, p 55

Doubt gets to the heart of what we believe about God; what we truly believe. And just like the father in Mark 9, we are faced with the choice to either persist in that unbelief or, like him, to cry out to both immediately and honestly. He is powerful, He is unpredictable, and He is unfailingly, eternally good. All three are true when He gives as well when He takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

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