I was on my dad’s shoulders. It was a cold night on Christmas Eve, back when Santa Claus was still real. We had just finished at Grandma’s house. (For as long as I can remember, every Christmas Eve, Santa came to Grandma’s and left us something. It was there that we would also give our gifts to each other within the extended family. I always loved Christmas Eve.)
I was admiring some present I got, when Daddy said, “Jensen! Look at the sky! Do you see him?”
I looked up, trying to see. There it was… a flashing red light! Surely, that could only mean one thing…
My dad chuckled, “Yes, you’re right! It’s Rudolf! That means we have to hurry so that you can go to bed! We don’t want to be late for when Santa comes!”
I remember telling Ian to hurry up, and telling Mom and Dad to hurry to get us home! (Keegan and Liam didn’t exist yet.) As soon as I got home, I got into my new Christmas pajamas, brushed my teeth, made sure that there were some cookies and milk for Santa, and hopped right in bed! It took me some time, but eventually, the adrenaline wore off, and I drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, we saw that Santa came! There were presents for us to open, and music for us to listen to. I went and checked Santa’s plate. He had eaten all the cookies and drank all the milk.
“Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit. And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.”
He brings his son to Christ, the son still gnashing and foaming. Christ then asks, “How long is it ago since this came unto him?
The father responds, “Of a child. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us.”
To which Christ says, “If thous canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”
Now, I don’t know exactly how this really played out. I don’t know how the father sounded, and I don’t know what he was thinking. But when he responds to the Savior, it hit me. In tears, he straightway said, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”
I know this story could have happened numerous ways. I’ve heard of different interpretations, and seen different reenactments. When I read this story, though, the way that I saw it was this: I wonder if the father, after years of trying to protect his son, maybe feeling like he failed, maybe feeling like it was a punishment for something that he has done… I wonder if he was holding him close, tears streaming down his face, and begging, “LORD! There are so many things that I believe! I have struggled for years, and it has been so, so hard! I’ve wanted to give up, but I just can’t! He is my child, my only child and I love him so much! There are things that I may struggle with, but I don’t want to let faith go! Lord, if I didn’t believe, I wouldn’t be here. So please, strengthen what I do know, and helpme with what I don’t know. Help thou my unbelief!”
And after that, the Savior commands the spirit to come out of the child.
Why did the Savior say that to the father? Why didn’t he just perform the miracle when the father asked? I wonder, maybe, since he does know us better, he asked the father so that the father could come to terms with himself. Maybe the father was struggling with his testimony. Or maybe it was that he needed to really know for himself if he had the faith enough for the Savior to be able to perform this miracle, the last hope, this father desperately needed. Maybe it was a test.
For whatever reason that was, I’m grateful he did. Because centuries later, I read this story, and it hit me.
There are days that are happy and amazing. There are days when I am overflowing with gratitude for my Savior and for my Father in Heaven and for this amazing plan. I feel elated, as if I could fly, that one day that I will see my family again, and that we are still a family, and that our family will continue to grow, and it will be a joyous wonderful occasion.
And then there are days that I am so heavy. I feel the heaviness of not having my own father or mother to guide me through things. There are days that even though I know and understand that I am not alone, there is still a part of me that feels isolated. I find myself missing them so much, that I just feel the need to have a day and allow the sadness to do its thing, then leave.
And when those moments come, sometimes I wonder… “Am I ungrateful? Am I losing faith? I already know everything will be ok… so why do I feel this way?”
Then, there are stories like these; stories of real people that experience anguish and sadness, even though they have faith. A story about a father’s love so strong, that he held on to the belief that one day, his son would be healed. A story about (in my opinion) a father who understood and knew that he was not perfect, and that he didn’t know everything that there was to know… But he did have the faith to know that Christ would help him with his doubts, or unbelief.
Reading that brought me so much comfort and joy, knowing that one day, I can have a full knowledge if I am willing to rely on faith until that day, and knowing that I don’t have to know everything right now… is a wonderful feeling…
Questions to Ponder:
- In times when your faith seems to struggle what can you remember that can help strengthen your unbelief?