It’s approximately 2 am in the morning, and Ian, our 7-month-old is terribly sick. He doesn’t have a fever, but he’s got this awful cough, and we think he might be teething. My wife Tracy has been up every 30 minutes or so because of his crying, and because I’m a relatively heavy sleeper, I didn’t wake up to help her until now. Yeah, I know. 😦 I’m supposed to wake up two and a half hours from now to attend morning prayer by 5:30 am. I’m fairly sure I’m not going to make it given the consistent interruptions of sleep from our 3rd. (Who knows if the other two kids will wake up and want to sleep in our bed tonight because they can’t get any sleep either.)
Since I’m up, I decided to write my first blog post about my main prayer for 2017. It’s based on the story of the father who brings his demonized boy to Jesus from Mark 9:14-29. Here are the relevant parts from verses 21-24:
And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
I am not in control of very much, but you are. I have plans that I create in my life with my family, friends, and church, but ultimately you hold all of them in your hands. As much as I hate to admit it, none of those plans can occur without your explicit permission because you are sovereign over the entire universe. So this year, help me to increase my faith in you; help my unbelief.
Though it is highly irrational, I have a hard time believing that you’re actually for me. Sometimes I have a hard time believing that you’re as good as you say you are. So I do weird things like hold back how much I pray for my own family sometimes. I wonder if they become too precious to me, you’ll take them away. Let the cross be a reminder that none of this is true; you gave everything to have me. Increase my faith in you; help my unbelief.
I have so many questions about what 2017 will bring. I am unsure about where things are going in regards to the things that have been setup in my life here at the end of 2016. I thought I knew what I would be doing for the rest of my life, but you have taken the snow globe of my life and shaken it all up; nothing seems settled anymore. The pieces are all floating about, and only you know how they fit together. I feel like one of the disciples weathering the storm on the boat, waiting for Jesus to tell the storm to be calm, but unsure of whether or not I’m going to survive to see it happen. I know you control the elements and they are fully in your sovereign hand. But I don’t know that I can trust you because I had other plans for how this was supposed to work. You weren’t meant to shake things up and make me uncomfortable. So here I am again, doubting your goodness and care for me. Increase my faith in you; help my unbelief.
I have anxiety over my weaknesses and inadequacies. My tendencies towards laziness or my love of comfort hold me back from whatever I determine to be a successful life. I have a tendency to compare myself to others, and I often fall terribly short. I wonder if I’ll ever get to where someone else is, and the sins of envy, jealousy, and resentment begin to fester and boil in my heart. And when that happens, I once again build up reasons not to trust you. Increase my faith in you; help my unbelief.
When bad things happen to the ones I love or me, I justify their occurrences as a form of punishment that you’re inflicting on me. I tell myself that it’s payment for my many, grievous sins. I know it’s not true in my head, but it’s so hard to trust in the truths of the gospel with all my heart. There’s still a part of me that believes that I somehow have to work off the marks of sins against me. I have a tough time seeing myself “white as snow” through the blood of Jesus. As I sit here, almost a month into my knee and foot being inflamed and filled with pain, I haven’t prayed for healing because I’ve condemned myself into thinking that I deserve this for being a father and husband that falls short of the ideal. I fool myself into thinking that if I just endure this pain, somehow I’ll have made up for those things. It’s foolish, I know, to believe this. Yet here I am, unsure of how to pray or ask for prayer. Increase my faith in you; help my unbelief.
May 2017 be a year where I trust you more and more each day. Show me the beauty of the cross and the magnitude of your love for me. Deal gently with me Lord as you increase my faith in you and help my unbelief.
In Jesus name…