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by Susan Budensiek
9/02/2017 / Christian Living
“Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief;” Mark 9:24 KJV
“I do trust – help my lack of trust!” CJB
I had often wondered about that verse and simply chalked it off as meaning the man who said that didn’t really believe, or just didn’t believe enough. But while praying about a recent, difficult neighbor problem, heavily involving human nature, I thought of that verse, and determined to study it later that day. That was a few weeks ago. Every time I set my sites on studying it, something happened to stop me, so I began to suspect that the adversary didn’t want me to ponder the concept. Today he managed to delay my getting started by placing in front of me a temptation nearly impossible to resist and that could easily have occupied my thoughts and time literally all day. With a little self-discipline, a goodly amount of desire to learn, and a whole lot of help from God, that very enticing temptation (DNA results for family history!) was put on a back burner.
My first thought was that if this man is a believer, why is he saying, “Help thou mine unbelief?” According to the Complete Jewish Bible, the phrase used is “lack of trust” rather than “unbelief.” Looking up all occurrences of the word “unbelief” in the Bible, I found they were all in the New Testament and in all but a few instances, the CJB uses “lack of trust” or when referring to the opposite, “trust.” Now, that makes a difference.
I can see how a believer could have difficulty trusting enough, knowing “faith” and “trust” are often used interchangeably. And into my mind pops the “faith as a mustard seed” scriptures.
Matthew 17:20 (KJV) And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
Matthew 17:20 (CJB) have trust as tiny as a mustard seed, you will be able to say to this mountain, `Move from here to there!' and it will move; indeed, nothing will be impossible for you!
Luke 17:6 (KJV) And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
Luke 17:6 (CJB) The Lord replied, "If you had trust as tiny as a mustard seed, you could say to this fig tree, `Be uprooted and replanted in the sea!' and it would obey you.
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t moved any mountains even an inch or transplanted any fig trees into the sea in my life. That makes it obvious that my trust, or faith, is really, really small. Over the many years of going to church, Bible studies, etc., I’ve understood that to say I don’t have much faith is acceptable – no one has much, so it’s okay. However, to say I lack “trust” is much more condemning in my own mind, and I begin to muse on why prayers seem to go unanswered, why believers have so many problems that can’t seem to be overcome…
But wait! What is it that I do that minimizes my trust in God? After over forty years of being a believer, a born again Christian, that even if I still can’t move a mountain, there should be some increase of my faith/trust. I came up with a couple different examples that are so common among professing Christians, yet they go unnoticed and we continue to wallow. I’ll use the example that came to me first. When our grandson joined the Marines, I worried – you know, all of the horrors of Vietnam are still fairly fresh, especially since I am married to a veteran of that conflict, and worry that our boy would end up in a war zone (there are plenty to choose from these days) and that sort of thing. Then when he chose computer stuff as his area of service I was relieved thinking he would be safer than an infantryman on front lines. The truth is, that I can pray for his safety but if he is here in Tennessee with us or overseas somewhere doing what the government has sent him to do, God will spare his life or take it when God so wills. I would like to be able to protect the little boy forever but even if he was here with me, I could not protect him any better than I can if he was the fine young man he is, wherever he is, if God says it is time for him to go home and be with Him. No matter where we are, our lifespan is in God’s hands, and we cannot lengthen it by a single minute past His will.
Then, I started thinking about that neighbor problem and realized that we pray for God to cause the correct resolution to take place. Next thought: he doesn’t care one iota about God’s will, although he claims to be a Christian, so…pray for his salvation or awakening to care whether or not his decisions are God’s will…oh, but he is so stubborn and arrogant, he’ll never humble himself that much. Boom! Just shot down the effectiveness of prayer for him. In a nutshell, we pray for God to handle situations and then turn right around and revisit those situations with negativity, showing our lack of trust…or faith…that God Almighty can do anything about it.
Then there is another important aspect to these mustard seed scriptures – what do the mountain and tree represent?
I was raised in church but always felt like I was missing something. Now the Word of God excites me! My curiosity enhances pursuance of discernment. I have often felt dismayed but not discouraged knowing that in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! Click here and TRUST JESUS NOW
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