Some years ago I got an email from a close, personal friend, a mother with three grown children, who was facing a severe, life-threatening illness. The email included the following paragraph, quoted here, verbatim:
“Oh, wretched man that I am! Every day and all day long I am confronted with my constant distrust of God. I abandon Him at every turn looking for someone or something else to save me. I am so eager and willing to put my trust in horses and chariots; all things that CANNOT save. I sell God short, doubt His word and promises, turn away from Him to worship and trust earthly idols and THEN I want Him to prove to me that He really is!!! Can’t help but laugh out loud! Lord have mercy!”
This mother had beautifully isolated and expressed a heart attitude that all of us have when faced with seemingly impossible situations, if we are perceptive enough to see it and then come to grips with it. Yes, we are believers, knowing intellectually that God is good, loves us, and is ultimately in charge and that “all things work together for good.” However, in the press of life, we become essentially unbelievers, overcome by fear and doubt in practical, real-life, crisis situations. Just as we are simultaneously wicked sinners and perfect saints, we are also simultaneously believers and unbelievers.
The quote above resembles the typical beginning of one of David’s psalms, with David in the slough of despond, sure that God has left him forever. However, they inevitably end with David remembering God’s faithfulness, trusting Him again, and finally rejoicing in the midst of his circumstances. There is a clue in the paragraph of my friend’s e-mail that indicates she went through that same sequence in her despair. She too moved, with David, from unbeliever to believer, from performance to faith, from death to life. Do you see it?
This mother, with a flash of revelation, remembered again how much God loves her in the midst of her troubles, how He has everything under control, and how her endless unbelief doesn’t make God mad, upset, or cause Him to be disappointed or displeased with her. She remembered again that He is, right now, “rejoicing over her with gladness, He is quieting her with His love, He is rejoicing over her with singing” (Zephaniah 3;17).
The little phrase in her e-mail, “Can’t help but laugh out loud!” is the tip-off. How could she laugh at the situation in which she found herself, including her own sinful unbelief? Only one way—knowing experientially, by revelation, the indomitable, unrelenting, unfathomable, indescribable love of God poured out for her at the cross in Jesus Christ. Listen to the rest of her e-mail as evidence of that fact:
“But Hallelujah, the radical gospel truth once again sets my feet on the solid rock….there is no right or wrong…..there is FAITH ALONE! No worries when trusting Daddy. He saved me AGAIN!”
Those are the triumphant words of one for whom the Lord has answered the prayer, “I believe, help my unbelief!” Lord, I believe; help my unbelief today. Next week we will see how God’s answer to her prayer impacted all who knew her.