I filled up my truck with gas this morning. Man, I can’t believe how the price of gasoline has gone up. And the St. Louis Cardinals scored fourteen runs the other night, in their game. I couldn’t believe how many homeruns they hit, either.
And my air conditioner at home is on the fritz, can you believe it? I just had it looked at a month ago. I can’t believe it’s not working. In fact, there are a lot of things in life that I can’t believe. The shape the country’s in; the number of people out of work, right now. I can’t believe I’m as old as I am.
And I can’t believe some of the things I say, either; some of the things I do. I can’t believe life’s as difficult as it is, sometimes.
We all use that phrase, “I can’t believe it,” don’t we? And when we say it, we don’t really mean it. I mean, when I pull up to the pump for gasoline in my truck, I may not want to believe it, but I do believe gasoline is high, even though I may say I can’t believe it. I actually believe the Cardinals scored fourteen runs, too. I listened to the game. I don’t think the broadcasters were making up the score. I believed them, even though I say “I couldn’t believe the score.” We use that phrase when we’re surprised or shocked, even mildly, by something we’ve experienced or have noticed. When we say we ‘can’t believe’ something? We really do believe it.
But there’s a big difference between my saying “I can’t believe …,” and my saying “I won’t believe….” The truth is that what we refuse to believe can have a defining impact on our lives.
You may know the story in the gospels of that dad whose boy had a spirit of deafness, and seizures that threw him to the ground, foaming at the mouth, grinding his teeth. That dad came to Jesus and said, “If you can do anything ….” And the Lord said, “If You can do anything? All things are possible to him who believes.” That concerned father made two amazing statements, back-to-back: “I do believe; help my unbelief.” You can read the outcome of this encounter for yourself in Mark’s gospel, chapter 9. I think what that dad was actually saying was, “There is something I believe. That’s why I brought my boy to you, Jesus. I believe you can heal him. But … I can’t believe you would have such wonderful compassion on the likes of me. Help me with what I can’t believe.”
The Lord Jesus walked into His hometown to do some teaching in the synagogue, and you know what? The bible says that the people in his hometown took offense at him. Who did he think he was, anyway, God? They refused to believe him. And because of their unbelief, the bible says that even Jesus — God in the flesh — didn’t do much on their behalf. Belief is a defining element in our lives. That’s why we’re called ‘believers.’
When Mary and Martha lost their brother, Lazarus, they believed he was dead. They saw him placed in that tomb, wrapped in those burial clothes. Yeah, they believed he was dead. What they couldn’t believe was that Jesus would let their brother die. “If you had been here, our brother would not have died,” they said. And when Jesus told them their brother would rise again? Absolutely, they believed it. He would rise again on the last day. What they couldn’t believe was that they were in the presence of the Resurrection and the Life, and believing that should have totally transformed their outlook on life, and death, and … eternity.
I don’t think I give enough time in my life to thinking about what I believe, and what I can’t believe about Jesus. I can’t believe He has walked with me all these years. But He has. I can’t believe He has been through every struggle I’ve ever had, and used those challenging struggles to grow me, strengthen and mature me. I’ve seen His faithfulness in action over the years in my life. I believe it, even though … when the next challenge in my life presents itself, I wonder if I’ll have enough trust in my tank to believe and be persuaded that He can keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day?