As I sat down to write these devotions about hope, peace, joy, and love, I asked myself, “What steals our hope? What steals our peace? What steals our joy?” I want to bring these thieving things into the light, that we might reckon with them and be able to experience hope, peace, joy, and love afresh this Christmas season. I think that perhaps the greatest thief of hope is unbelief. We read about our great God in scripture, but because He’s SO great, sometimes we find ourselves a little skeptical. We would never say it out loud, of course, but somewhere in our fallen, twisted hearts we think:
“God isn’t really good.”
“He can’t (or won’t) really reach this person I’ve been praying for for YEARS.”
“He can’t really heal my friend.”
“He won’t really forgive me, our use my life for his glory; I’m just too messed up.”
And when this sneaky kind of unbelief creeps into our hearts, our hope shrivels up and dies. We stop hoping, stop praying, stop believing, stop striving – because what’s the point?
I hear those whispers in my heart more often than I’d like to admit. And when I do, I turn to what I believe is one of the most beautiful, honest verses in the whole Bible.
In Mark chapter 9 a man is begging Jesus to help his son. He says,
“…If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
That just kills me, I love it! It’s just so honest, so human. “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” (And you know what happened next? Jesus healed the man’s son on the spot.)
I find myself exclaiming this to God when I recognize that sly, dangerous doubt in my heart. God, I KNOW You! I believe that You are who You say You are, and You can do what You say You can do. Help me overcome this unbelief!”
With my whole heart I want you to experience the glorious hope of Jesus today (and for the rest of the Advent season). Is there a place where you failing to fully believe God? Is it stealing your hope and joy? Make this verse the cry of your heart today, and allow God to restore beautiful, glorious hope in your heart! God, help me overcome my unbelief!
“I trust You as much as I love You; help me to love and trust You more.” [ Hinds Feet on High Places]