It’s not a word I like to use often. Maybe you’re different. It seems some people are. They use it all the time. The dreaded word?
Or better yet — Help! I need somebody!
The last few weeks brought me to a place where just about all I could do was cry, “Help!” I thought about crying, “Uncle!” then went with help as the more Biblical approach.
One reason I had gone dark for two weeks here at Patheos was that I experienced a back injury that took me off my feet and out of action for several days. Those of you who’ve suffered through back pain know the drill. When you hurt your back, suddenly the most mundane tasks become monumental efforts. For me, reaching down a mere six inches became grueling agony. Soon walking became unbearable. And sitting in front of a keyboard for any length of time? Not happening.
So I had time to think. And brood. And complain.
Then think some more before asking for help.
God Helps Those Who Ask for It
I thought of how Jesus seemed to enjoy healing and helping those who had the courage to admit their need. He seemed drawn to those who cried, “Help!” He seemed moved to do mighty things for those who were in over their heads — and knew it. “The Lord is near to all those who call upon Him….”
I thought of how how the psalmist says that God is our strength (Ps. 46:1), the source of our ability to move forward in the face of extreme difficulty.
I thought of the Scriptural claims that God’s strength is made complete through our weakness. And, boy, was I at a place of weakness. But I also pondered just how uncomfortable that admission made me feel. I didn’t like feeling weak and helpless. I didn’t like having to ask for help to do the simplest of tasks. Even though I know we’ve all been there and will be again.
My friend Hugh Hewitt put it best in In, But Not Of Revised & Updated: A Guide to Christian Ambition and the Desire to Influence the World:
Someone nursed you, clothed you, kept you safe. Not everyone can say that. Millions die before they draw a breath. Millions more before the age of five. Millions more are beaten, abused, famished, and diseased.
Someone taught you to read, gave you music, showed you a sport.
Someone inspired you to learn, told you about God, introduced you to your spouse, granted you an interview, gave you a job.
Someone assisted your dad; someone helped your spouse; someone coached your daughter.
And someone will bring you a blanket in a hospital room, give you a ride toa doctor’s appointemnt, and hold your hand as death approaches.Our utter dependance on others is so obvious and so complete that it is as invisible as oxygen and just as necessary.
As I wallowed in my self-pity in fits and spurts, it dawned on me. I don’t like asking for help for anything. By asking for help, I’m admitting that I am deficient, that I am lacking something that only someone else can provide. Frankly, to this proud sinner, such a reminder was quite disturbing. It’s especially frustrating when the brain works fine but the body refuses to cooperate.
A Benefit of the Gift of Pain
I realized then that one benefit from the gift of pain is that we become more willing to ask for and receive help from others. I confess again that I do not like it. I want to be self-sufficient. I want to be the one everyone else turns to when they need help. So I can humbly dispense it — and then haughtily rest in my quasi-omnipotence.
But life is a fragile thing. I suspect, that’s by design. It just doesn’t work when we do it alone. At least not for long.
Faith demands that we intentionally learn to live by the truth that we can do nothing apart from Christ. That’s what he says, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” Nothing. That has to be the one reality of life I find most disturbing to my fallen ego. But there it is. No wonder so many find the autonomous claims of atheism appealing.
Running with Hands Wide Open
Over the last nine months, God has systematically stripped away many of the props that once convinced me I was safe and secure. I’m learning more each day that my only security is in Him. He’s continually prying open my fingers, forcing me to let go of everything that I thought was my refuge. And the He’s calling me to run.
It’s as if He’s placed His assignment for me in my open hand — like a sheet of paper — and then told me to run with all my might.
If you’ve ever tried running with a piece of paper flat on your hand, you know it’s virtually impossible to do. Unless you raise your hand while running so that the paper is facing into the challenging path. Then the force of your motion keeps it in place as long as you keep moving forward.
I guess it’s a good thing that He lifts those who wait upon Him. Those who choose to walk each day by faith. Those who aren’t afraid to cry, “Help!”
I, for one, am glad I’m learning that I do need Somebody. And a whole bunch of other somebodies. Well, most of the time I’m glad.
Has God ever brought you to a plaae where it was obvious that you needed help? How did you feel about asking for help? Share your story with a comment so we can all grow our faith.