I struggle with unbelief every time I sin. When I gossip, I believe the lie that my name will be greater if so-and-so’s is lesser. When I hurt someone’s feelings, I believe the lie that their misery is more pleasurable to me than their joy. I believe lies rather than the promises of God and as a result I’m filled with idols, lusts, and evil passions. When unbelief poisons my heart I feel helpless against it; how can I make myself believe something I don’t believe?
In Mark 9, Christ’s disciples struggle to cast a demon out of a young man. They bring him to Christ asking why they cannot do it. Christ blames their lack of faith, then begins to question the young man’s father. The father says to Jesus, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us!” Jesus replies, perhaps a bit incredulously, “‘If you can!’ Anything is possible for one who believes.”
And yet, the man was clearly struggling with belief. He wasn’t not entirely sure if Jesus could do something. But it’s not entirely true to say that he did not believe. I mean, when we say that we’re struggling to believe, what we really mean is that we want to believe. Why else would we be struggling? We only struggle for things that we believe are worth something. The struggle to believe, then, is a sort of belief.
That’s why the man with a possessed son cries out “I believe; help my unbelief!” And Christ did; he cast out the young man’s demons. In the same way, when we’re struggling to believe we must cry out the truth of our heart, “I believe; help my unbelief!” He stoops to conquer. Your idols will fall.