I Believe-Help My Unbelief

This week I will be preaching on an incredibly insightful event in the life of Jesus Christ – Mark Chapter 9. A father with a deeply troubled son comes to Jesus for help. And at one point in the drama he utters what has been on every human being’s mind for some time.  “I believe, help my unbelief.”  I hope that agnostics, atheists and struggling Christians come this week.  But I also pray that all of us will come with an open heart ready for the power of God’s Word to give us new practical steps to strengthen our faith. 

We live in an age of cynicism.  Webster’s dictionary defines this commonly used word as “a belief that the motivations of people are generally selfish.”  But that definition is far from its origin of the early Greek cynics.   This was a system of philosophy as well as a rejection of the complicated life of the age and a choice of simplicity.  Today, we use it for someone who has secretly given up on the viewpoint that lofty ideals really don’t have a practical place in life.  Therefore, our society has often been called living in the age of cynicism.  

This is a common reference to our day today.  For example, in the Salt Lake Tribune, Howard Lehman, a professor of political science at the University of Utah, wrote within the last year, “However, young people today deserve better. It may be impossible to return to the Age of Idealism, but surely our political leaders can provide a more optimistic and hopeful environment for them as a way to reject this Age of Cynicism.”

The point is that there are a lot of discouraged, frustrated, and pessimistic people today and we need faith now more than ever.  For parents of troubled children and children of troubled parents this story speaks to all of us.

My question for you as you consider whether you have time to make it to church this busy week is: Can you afford to miss an inspirational experience that will build solid, practical, honest belief into your life?  We all have prayed the prayer of this father -- “I believe – help my unbelief.”  It is time we let God do just that in a surprisingly spiritual way.

Your friend for the rest of my life,

Pastor Tim White

When The Illusion Is Gone


Disillusionment, it happens to us all. It is that place from which one could build a stronger belief system by examining what it is we truly want to depend upon when things get tough.

This could be viewed as a ‘crisis of faith’ and could have been a slippery slope heading to disbelief.  I chose to see it as a place to re evaluate, dig in, hold on, and do some checking into what I believed truly. Or find out if it was a belief system belonging to someone else that I had acquired.

It was there that I truly found out who God was, who Jesus was and what job the Holy Spirit had to do in my life.

I read books from authors who had dealt with similar situations. People who had questioned what they were being told when it didn’t conform to their expectations, and who had also gone on a faith search.

Philip Yancey was a man raised in the 70’s in southern Baptist churches who had a head on collision with the thinking of the black and white issue. C.S. Lewis came from an atheist background and found his way to faith. I was in good company. 

My dilemma had to do with what the ‘church’s view was toward people in crisis: People in addiction - people of divorce. I had been raised in a church and a way of thinking that if you prayed hard enough, hung in there long enough, you could overcome all manner of things. But what if the person in the marriage kept up the abuse knowing the partner wouldn’t leave?  What I saw instead were families torn by abuse, pain, and violence that was being tolerated because to divorce was ‘unchristian’. It put me at odds with my church family because that was me. I knew in my heart that God was more forgiving and tolerant than the ideas I was hearing. I pulled away from church, but kept my faith in God. For 10 years I lived alienated from a body of believers, until the day when I found out about Washington Cathedral.

Many changes had occurred in my life in those 10 years. I now had a grand-daughter from a teenage daughter which has been one of the best things that could have happened to our family. Through that, my daughter found her path, embraced motherhood and raised a fantastic daughter. I had remarried and found a loving man but one who came with some brokenness of his own. Washington Cathedral was a body of believers who had a big, collective heart. They accepted people who came broken, hurting, questioning and loved us. I have never regretted the day we walked into the sanctuary, looked at the waterfall and felt “at home” and in the resulting 12 years it continues.

This series we just finished on ‘Disillusionment’ has caused me to look back over my journey and see just how healthy it is to ask these questions and have the discussion. We each have a journey to take, it is so much easier to know we are on it with fellow travelers who can appreciate what we are going through without criticism, but with the understanding that life gets messy and that when it gets really tough, God is there loving us and waiting for us to ask for help. It also helps to have people to talk to who give good counsel from personal experience. I believe that makes for a healthy church. One that recognizes our human frailties offers the solutions and supports that one while time is taken to get to that place of acceptance.