“And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief.” – Mark 6:5-6a
“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” – Mark 9:24
“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” – Luke 11:9-10
I come from a long line of exceptionally stubborn people, and we have our family legends to back it up. When my great aunt stubbornly insisted that she was quitting high school a year before graduation, my great uncle (her older brother) picked her up and physically carried her into school with equal stubbornness.
While I tend to be one of the more easy-going personalities in my family, I’m ashamed to say that I can be hard-headed when it comes to hope. I want to believe that things can change, that people can change – and most importantly, that God changes things – but there are times when I’ve just seen too much, and what I have seen makes faith seem like folly.
Time and time again, I catch myself giving up on someone, tired of praying for a change that will probably never come, tired of hoping against hope that good can come out of undeniably bad circumstances. I hear myself trying to say hopeful things, and they sound hollow, especially in the midst of life’s ugliest messes.
Maybe that’s where the people of Nazareth were when Jesus circled back to His hometown in Mark 6. He had just come from Capernaum, where a long list of incredible miracles had occurred, the last of which had been the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Mark 6:38-43). But although the stories of hope and healing must have traveled to Nazareth, the people stubbornly refused to believe that one of their own could have amounted to anything worth believing in (John 1:46). It’s almost as if the whole town had a complex of hopelessness. Mark 6:5 tells us, “He could do no mighty work there,” and verse 6 says, “He marvelled because of their unbelief.”
This was actually the second time that Nazareth had rejected Jesus. The first time (Luke 4:16-30), they tried to kill Him for claiming to be the Messiah, and He miraculously escaped. Even then, Nazareth was an eye-witness to hope, but they were stubborn believers in hopelessness.
How horribly sad. How tragic. What miracles did He want to perform there? How many lives might have been changed? We’ll never know. He would move on to feed the 5000 near Bethsaida, walk on the water, and would later spend much more time in Capernaum, where faith lived and miracles could abound. The people of Capernaum were no more deserving; they were just more believing.
It’s been said that there is a storeroom in heaven filled with unclaimed blessings – gifts that a gracious heavenly Father longs to bestow, but that go unaccepted by His stubborn children.
Today, I choose to channel my stubbornness into an unflinching faith. I want all of the miracles, all of the blessings, and all of the goodness and mercy that God has for me and those I love (Psalm 23:6, 27:13, 100:5, Jeremiah 29:11-13). I’m dusting off the prayer requests that I’ve foolishly forgotten, and I’m taking them back to the throne with a renewed faith in the God Who is on that throne (Philippians 4:6, I Thessalonians 5:17, Hebrews 4:16).
Is there something that you’ve given up praying for? Pray for it again. Don’t let the passage of time discourage you. God rarely works in our time, but His timing is always perfect. If you must be stubborn about anything, be stubborn about prayer (Romans 4:16-22, Hebrews 11:6, I Peter 1:7-8). Take all the energy you put into stressing, micro-managing, and griping and expend that energy in prayer instead.
I refuse to be Nazareth, where faith was snuffed out and God’s grace was stunningly rejected. I choose to believe in miracles, lost causes, the power of prayer, and the ever-working, unseen Hand of God. No matter how stubborn I may be on the surface, deep down I know that God has never let me down. So regardless of what my eyes have seen, I’ll build up my hopes (Hebrews 11:1), and I’ll make my home where faith lives.
Is your faith failing? Have you stopped asking God to move, because you don’t believe He will? Ask God to give you a renewed faith in His sovereignty, His plan, and His unfailing love for you. Take your requests to Him, and believe that He is faithful.