Mark 9:17-24

17Someone from the crowd answered him, ‘Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; 18and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.’ 19He answered them, ‘You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.’ 20And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 Jesus asked the father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ And he said, ‘From childhood. 22It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.’ 23Jesus said to him, ‘If you are able! -All things can be done for the one who believes.’ 24Immediately the father of the child cried out, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’

“I believe; help my unbelief!” This man – whose son is so traumatized and tortured – states the inner conflict that so many of us have. Not only does he speak it, but he has courage to speak it to Jesus.

Before going to seminary, I told a college friend that I still have doubts about faith, religion, God, and the whole bit. This person was shocked that I would say such a thing. She said it was okay for her to have doubts, but not for me. What an odd proposition. For some reason, because I am staking my career on this whole enterprise, I was supposed to be completely faithful, while “normal people” were supposed to have doubts. In that world, even though I live and breathe religion everyday, I was not to question it. But for the person who might just have a casual relationship with religion, they could do whatever they want with it.

So let’s clear the air. It’s normal to have faith, and it’s normal to have doubt. It does not matter so much that we are faithful. What matters far more than our faithfulness to God, is that God is faithful to us.

The Rev. Jimmy Abbott