I recently found myself overwhelmed and tearful while recording a video message for a dear friend. I was relaying some marital and parental frustrations, which were quite a load, I guess. Recalling both my current struggles and other current negative events affecting my soul, I said, “Everything. Everything is so heavy lately.”
And it all has been. Heavy.
Since the horrific day in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, life has seemed harder. I have had quite the struggle leaning into my faith — not to understand what took place, but to gain a hold of the hope that typically defines my heart.
While speaking to my friend through the Marco Polo app about the present heaviness of life, I remembered hearing this verse a while back from Mark’s gospel just after the Transfiguration.
“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
The proclamation comes from a desperate father, who has brought his very sick son to Jesus for healing after Jesus’ disciples have been unable to help. In his anguish, he asks Jesus to free his child of a tormenting evil spirit “if you are able.” Jesus responds, “’If you are able!— Everything is possible for one who believes.” And the father cries out the above statement.
I probably read over this plea a time or two, utterly overlooking the father’s intent. It was not until I heard my brother-in-law, a priest in the Episcopal Church, explain it as “doubt” that I grasped the father’s cry.
Recalling this during my one-sided conversation with my friend, I became fully aware of how much doubt I had let seep into my faith in Jesus, my faith in hope, my faith in restoration. Family members are sad, friends are hurting, people are being taken from this earth for no apparent reason; my son is struggling, my husband and I argued, I miss my friend. Wrapped up in this are prayers that go unanswered. I was full of doubt, and that realization broke my heart.
This summer, while trying to come to terms with the events in Uvalde, I found myself reflecting on another line in scripture (Mark, chapter 6) and one that is said in church every Sunday, and on football fields and in youth huddles and the like, that I always read over or say on repeat without much consideration: “deliver us from evil.” That one line in the Lord’s Prayer, written as Jesus taught his disciples to pray.
That doubt surfaced again – why were these 21 precious bodies not “delivered” from evil? Why did evil have the last word? Why does it seem to have the last say in so many situations?
As school started this year, I took my boys back with a heavier heart. But the afternoon of the third day of school, my first grader, while crunching on his fifth after-school snack, casually stated, “Mom, I love life.”
Taken a bit back, I told him that was fabulous, and we should all live each day thinking the same. He then said, “Yes, but I also have two lives. One here, and one in Heaven that will last forever.”
“For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.”
My thoughts turned. Those precious souls were “delivered” from evil. And it occurred to me that they might have been delivered from evil in the way that God prefers – not for those of us left behind to grieve unconsolably, because I do believe he cries right along with us – but to bring them, in that moment of pure brokenness, to life everlasting.
With my son’s proclamation settled in my soul and my ongoing witnessing of our three sons discover the wonders of life, and with the healing that is being facilitated and the ongoing witness to the good being brought to Uvalde, my “unbelief” has begun to subside.
My prayers — and those of my family — remain, that the peace of God that transcends all understanding will rest upon those still reeling, still wondering, still searching for understanding. May your hearts and your minds be guarded (and filled) by the hope found in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).
Uvalde High School, class of 2000