“I have doubts. Does that mean I don’t have faith?” I’ve been asked that question dozens of times.
There’s a great story about this in the Gospel of Mark. A man asks Jesus to help him with his son. He explains that he had already sought help from Jesus’ disciples but that they were not able to do anything for him. The man says to Jesus, “If you can, please help him!” Notice the, “If” in his request for help, “If you can…”
Jesus noticed it too. So he countered, “‘If you can!’” quoting the man, emphasizing his use of the word, “If.” He then said, “All things are possible to those who believe.”
This father knew he was in trouble, because his faith was weak. But yet it was strong enough to ask Jesus for help. So admitting his own doubts, he exclaimed, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Even in his doubt, he asks Jesus to strengthen his faith. And Jesus does; he heals the man’s son.
It’s not the strength of our faith that matters, but the object of our faith.
After all, you could have all the faith in the world in me to be a great replacement quarterback for Aaron Rodgers on my favorite team, but that faith would get you nowhere. If I were to quarterback the team, we’d lose miserably, even to the Bears! (Sorry Bear fans – haha.)
On the other hand, if Rodgers were healthy and back in the lineup, doubting his abilities would not get in the way of his performance. Because it’s the object of faith that matters, not the strength of it.
Who or what is your faith in? If it’s in your family, career, relationships, or any other person or pursuit, it will not matter how hard you believe. You’ll be disappointed. But if your faith is in God’s Son, even in the throes of doubt, you’ll be taken into eternity with him.
So then, how much faith is enough? If your faith is in God, you only need enough to act on that faith, instead of your doubts.
When I get into my car, I only need enough faith that the engine will start to actually turn the key. I might doubt that it will start. But all the faith I need is enough faith to just turn the key.
In fact, the very nature of faith demands an element of doubt. If there were absolutely no doubts, ever, that would not be an exercise in faith. That would be knowledge. God wants us to know him by believing him even when it’s hard, to trust him enough to follow him. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you do not see the rest of the staircase.”
Maybe your prayer today could mirror the dad’s prayer in Mark 9, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.”