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Belief or Unbelief: that is the question

Today’s reading: Numbers 11-13; Mark 5:21-43

Selected Verses

So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” Numbers 13:32-33

And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. Mark 5:40-42


Here we have two cases of overwhelming odds. Both cases involved life or death. The twelve spies entered into the land of Canaan, the Promised Land. But ten of them only saw terrifying giants, walled cities, and invincible armies. “We cannot take this land,” they concluded. In the other case there was a twelve year old girl who had died. The friends and neighbors laughed when Jesus said she was only sleeping.

Unbelief is powerful. Unbelief looks only at what humans can or cannot do. Unbelief does not count on God’s power, loving kindness, or providence. Unbelief laughs, scorns, ridicules, and trembles.

But unbelief can be overcome by a clear-eyed look at God, His power, and His promises.

It appears that Jairus and his wife believed Jesus. They entered with Him into their daughter’s room and in moments received her back from death. The Israelites persisted in their unbelief. Later, we shall see that they earned a sentence of death in the wilderness rather than enter the land they had been promised. It was a costly lesson.

Think about it

God doesn’t always raise the dead when we pray, but neither does He always “repay us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10). In God's goodness, we often get far more than we deserve. Nevertheless, trust in Him will never be disappointed because He will make all things result in our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).

What dead daughters and hostile armies do you face today? If God has promised to work, trust Him to do the impossible according to His wise will.

© 2017 John A Carroll Used by permission

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