Desperation and a Little Faith

“Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’”—Mark 9:24 (NIV)

Today, my son Jude turns nine. He’s a creative, funny, kind, highly intelligent, and thoughtful person who loves me and looks up to me. He loves all the things I love and always wants to be by my side. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him! So, it seems only fitting that I would be writing to you today about Mark 9:24.

As we saw yesterday, a dad whose young son has been oppressed by a demon since infancy is desperately pleading with Jesus. He tried bringing his son to the disciples while Jesus was away, but they couldn’t liberate him. A few years ago, a close friend’s two-year-old daughter developed a serious form of cancer. It was a difficult battle, and I saw her parents try to do everything possible to heal her, just as this dad did. And she was! The Lord provided a miracle and today she’s happy and healthy! As a parent, I’ve learned that when it comes to your kids, you’ll do whatever it takes for them. And that’s what we’re seeing here.

So, the dad explains to Jesus the grave circumstances and says, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us,” to which Jesus replies, “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Now, before we get to the father’s response, we need to understand this man has seen his son suffer for years and has tried everything and come up empty. He says, fighting through tears, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Wow, such a gripping response and overall interaction taking place here. 

Truthfully, there’s such humility in this man’s response. He has faith in Jesus. He’s likely heard of the great miracles, feedings, healings, resurrections, and the casting out of demons in others. He had to believe Jesus was his best chance. He puts his trust in Jesus, but humbly admits his faith is not as strong as it should be. And could you blame him? This oppression has consumed his life and destroyed whatever grand hopes and dreams he had for his boy. 

I think we can all sympathize with this man whose belief wavered in the face of seemingly hopeless circumstances. And when we experience moments like this—and we will—we shouldn’t condemn ourselves or be filled with guilt at how terrible a Christian we are. No! We must do like this man did and humbly ask the giver of everything good and perfect to give us faith in greater measure! We can say to our Savior, Jesus, I believe, but help me overcome the areas of unbelief! 

He can make miracles out of our mustard seeds. He can take our little faith, and our areas of unbelief, and bring healing, rescue, and help as He nurtures, develops, and grows our faith. 

Pause: Why does this man say he both believes but needs help with unbelief?

Practice: We all have areas where we don’t have as much faith as we should. Make it a habit to pray the words of this father to our heavenly Father.

Pray: Father, I believe in You. I believe in Your Son. I know You are who You say You are, and You are faithful, powerful, good, and loving. I believe, and ask You to help me overcome my unbelief in the areas where I still struggle, where I’m still fearful, where I have doubt, and where I feel hopeless. Amen. 

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.