There is a story in the Gospels about a man with a sick child, believing that Jesus can heal his child, comes to Jesus and says the most amazing thing, “Lord, I believe but help my unbelief.” It is not the most read story in the Gospels, and is often overlooked. But I love this story of Jesus, of the man, of the need for healing, of the fragile beauty of being human when the father says to Jesus, “Lord…help my unbelief.”
If that verse of Scripture were translated exactly as it was in the Aramaic, it would be more truthfully written, “Lord, I believe but help me where my faith falls short.”
In truth, I have found my faith and my freedom in this little translation. This verse is what sustains me when I pray amidst my doubt. When faith is called upon to carry me and I am weak. When I am called to stand with and for others and I shrink back and tremble. And when I have nothing left, and I cry out to God in anguish and anger, empty over the state of my life, hating every part of my existence, when THAT is all I have left, the man in this story taught me to pray: Lord, I believe, but help me where my faith falls short.
In those eleven words comes the freedom to be raw and real with my God; to bare my arid soul before my Creator all but begging for mere scraps of Divine Love and Presence. In those words, I am reminded that even my faith is a gift from God; even the lack of my faith is a gift from God. It is as if I am stranded on a cliff and my rope is a few inches too short to reach the top to pull myself up, and God is the extra few inches of rope, God is the ledge; God is the very space between the end of my rope and the hope of my rescue.
In these moments of life, when I cannot see salvation, when I cannot find love in my heart, when bitterness and rage strangle my spirit…it is then that I cry out in a voice raw and raspy from screams and sickness: Lord, I believe…but help me where my faith falls short.
And it is enough.