Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 ESV)
There is a syndrome that affects loving parents across the world and is has done so since the beginning of time. I call it, ‘Lord I believe, help my unbelief!’
Typically the condition doesn’t manifest right away. No, as new parents, we confidently stand before God and others and dedicate our children to the Lord. We plan brunch, invite friends and family, choose frilly outfits for our sweet, precious babies and in front of witnesses promise to raise them in a God-fearing home, entrusting them to His care. We believe fully in what we are saying. But then . . . we have to let go.
We let go of the baby carrier, taking a sniff of the new-baby smell as we leave them with a sitter for the first time. Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!
We let go of sticky little fingers, as we guide them up the school bus steps. Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!
We let go of their passports as they pry them out of our fingers and disappear behind airport security barriers, setting off for college or a backpacking adventure. Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!
These are the times when those simple, heartfelt words spoken at their ‘child dedication’ can begin to stick in our throats. It’s no longer about frilly outfits and brunch. Rubber soothers are gone and the rubber is hitting the road. Faith-filled words are now put into action. And it’s hard.
I think of my sweet, dear friend, ‘Nadine’, who had to let go of her son, Kris, well before she was ready. Labor started right on time and everything looked good. But when they hooked up the baby monitor, it was discovered that the precious child she had carried and anticipated for nine months was already in the arms of the Lord. He was gone. Yet, the pain of childbirth and holding his lifeless body still lay ahead. Oh the painful loss of letting go!
Some would say that Kris never came of age, but we know that’s not true. He lived the life that was laid out for him since before time began. And his parents found it a privilege that they were chosen to be his, even if it meant having to let go of the plans that they had designed for their son and trust in the Designer who knit him in Nadine’s womb.
Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!
This is the cry of every parent’s heart. We have times filled with belief, and times where we struggle with unbelief. The Father knows so well how hard it is to let go of a beloved child! So wherever you are in the journey of ‘letting go’, remember that our empty hands are not to hang limply at our sides, but to cling to the Lord, the One who entrusted us with their care for a season.
Father, forgive us for holding on so tight and for making your precious gifts into idols. We thank you that you have proven to be a faithful Father and that we can trust You with our precious children. Help us to believe and when we do lack faith, to cry out to You for a fresh filling and a clearer vision of just Who you are. In Jesus’ name, Amen.