Before I met my wife, I had very few good romantic relationships. I'm not just talking about relationships that don't work out because no relationship really works until the one that lasts. I'm talking about hurtful relationships, relationships where I was lied to, taken for granted, cheated on, used. I got so used to being mistreated in relationships that, even after I was engaged, I still expected it to happen. So I looked for it to happen, and when I thought I had found evidence of it, I confronted my fiancé on it. I was very fortunate that she remained my fiancé. My lack of trust hurt her deeply, especially since my accusation was not true. After having my paranoid accusation blown out of the water, I remember sitting with her on the tailgate of a truck as she twirled that engagement ring round and round on her finger and I prayed that she wouldn't take it off. Fortunately she kept the ring and I learned a thing or two about trust.
As hard as it is at times to trust people, I think it is infinitely harder to trust God simply because God is so far beyond us that we can't comprehend God's thoughts or plans. A loved one endures a long and painful illness. We lose a job and aren't certain how we are going to provide for our family. A friend betrays us and hangs us out to dry. Or we follow God's leading and watch as our finances slowly deteriorate. Whatever the circumstance, there are times when things simply don't seem to add up. We say we trust God. We hope we trust God. But in the middle of the circumstances, deep down, we know that we don't. We just can't see our way out, even with a miracle.
A man in Mark 9 faced a time of doubt just like that. His son had been possessed by an evil spirit for years. The spirit tortured his son, throwing him into seizures, causing the boy to fall in fires to be burned or into water so that he nearly drowned. This man had sought out help for his son, even asking Jesus' disciples to help when they came into the region. Finally, in desperation the man came to Jesus himself and asked, "If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us" (Mark 9:22, NIV). Jesus' response in the next verse was to call attention to the man's doubt. "If you can? Everything is possible for him who believes."
Upon hearing Jesus' rebuke, the man's answer is at once remarkable and honest. He answers, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"
Sometimes, I think God wants us to answer that same way. "Lord, I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief!" Rather than insincerely spouting our trust in God or deciding to try harder to believe, take your lack of faith to God and ask for help to believe. God doesn't want lip service to our trust. God wants real, honest trust, which is often hard earned. Sometimes our trust in God can't grow until we own up to our own lack of faith, while expressing our sincere desire to believe.
In the middle of tough circumstances, when your faith in God is shaken, admit it and give God your doubt. Sometimes, that is the only way to overcome unbelief.