“I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.”
— Mark 11:24 NLT
The year 2011 was not a good year financially for many people. The recession continued, people lost their jobs, and some lost their houses. Giving to churches, missionaries, and other charitable organizations were down.
As was the case with many others, so it was with us: our income dropped considerably last year. As I thought about this, I became very discouraged. A dark cloud of unbelief settled over me. I found it very difficult to believe that God would continue to provide for us. For a while, things looked bleak, almost hopeless.
I consider myself to be an optimist. I believe that God will take care of us, and I try to encourage others to believe the same. However, on this occasion it took every ounce of strength that I had just to believe. In the middle of a spiritual battle simply believing what you know to be true can be a great challenge.
When everything is going well and you feel very close to God, it is easy to believe. It seems foolish to think you would ever doubt. But during times of testing or times of spiritual attack, it can be very difficult to believe. Spiritual warfare is real.
Luke speaks of the time when Jairus was struggling to believe. He received word that his daughter had died. “Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed’ ” (Luke 8:50 NIV).
I am reminded of another father who had to wrestle with unbelief. His son had an evil spirit that robbed him of his speech. It caused him to have seizures and sometimes would throw him into the fire to try to kill him. The disciples could not cast it out. When the boy was brought to Jesus, the demon “threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth” (Mark 9:20 NLT).
The father said to Jesus, “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”
Jesus responded, “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” “Anything is possible if a person believes.” Then the father cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:22–24)! This father had to fight to believe.
Believing is not only the battle that we must win, it is the work that we must do. Jesus says, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29 NLT). We all have been called to believe, and not just in His promises, but also in the person of Jesus, “the one he has sent.” Even when we find it difficult, we must believe. For “all things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23 NKJ).