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  • David Irvine

Easier Said Than Done

“Lord, I believe; help me with my unbelief!” – Mark 9:24

I’ve thought a lot about this scripture recently. These are uncertain times, as we all know. We’ve been sharing reassuring scriptures, inspirational thoughts and comforting music with each other on the FPC website, Facebook and by email. And I really appreciate this body of believers lifting each other up. But my faith isn’t perfect. It’s scary out there and I have doubts from time to time.

“Lord, I believe; help me with my unbelief!”

Twelve years ago, while serving at St. Andrew Presbyterian in Sonoma, Pastor Rich asked me to preach while he was out of town. I’d preached in his absence before, but this time was different. Just six weeks before Rich asked me to preach this time, I had experienced a serious, life-threatening stroke that had shaken my faith and left me terribly afraid. And that is exactly why Rich asked to me to preach, so that I would be forced to deal with this crisis in my faith. I decided that I would use as the text for the sermon the nearly 200 times in the Bible where it says, “Do not be afraid” or “fear not.” I wanted to dig into those instances where we are told that those of us who believe should not live our lives crippled by fear. And that’s why I titled the sermon “Easier Said Than Done.”

“Lord, I believe; help me with my unbelief!”

You remember the instance when a host of angels appeared out of nowhere to a group of shepherds and started with “Fear not!” Easier said than done. There are numerous times in the Old Testament where we read about some poor, unprepared soul who is called to lead a miniscule band of believers against the mighty armies of the opposition and is told “Feat not!” Easier said than done. Or how about the time when Paul is speaking to a rather hostile crowd in Corinth? The people became so abusive that Paul was ready to abandon his ministry there. But God spoke to Paul and said, “Fear not!”

One of my favorite solos to sing is called “Daughter of Jairus” by Jim Strathdee. The song recounts a story from the gospel of Mark in the 5th chapter. You might want to read the story yourself (Mark 5:21-43). The challenging verse for me is Mark 5:36 when Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid, just believe.”

I don’t know how the current coronavirus pandemic is going to end. None of us knows. But we know it’s scary and unsettling. And 12 years ago, when I wrote this sermon I’ve been talking about, I didn’t know how it was going to end either. Pastor Rich wanted to assist me in writing my sermon. When I sat down with him and told him that I didn’t have an ending yet, his response was, “You’re right. It doesn’t have an ending – at least not yet. And it may not have an ending by the time you have to share it. But it will have an ending – eventually – and I want you to share it anyway.”

So, I conclude these thoughts as well without an ending. I do know that I pray for all of you; for your health and your safety and for all of us to be worshipping together soon. And I know that my prayer for myself is, “Lord, I believe; help me with my unbelief!”

David Irvine

Director of Choral Music

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