Monthly Archives: February 2013

Help!

A Sunday School teacher (according to one of my favorite “preacher stories”) told her preschool children Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. Seeking to involve the students, she asked if anyone could tell her what the story means. An eager little boy thrust his hand in the air. “OK, Jeff, what does the parable of the Good Samaritan mean to you?” she asked. Jeff confidently replied, “Whenever I am in trouble, somebody ought to help me!”

In 1965, the Beatles topped the pop music world with a universal cry:

Help! I need somebody!

Help! Not just anybody.

Help! You know I need someone. Help!

Every one of us comes to the end of our resources. Frustrated, endangered, overwhelmed, distressed, or sad, we grasp for any help we can get.

The good news is that God’s help is always as close as a prayer, and always greater than our need. The magnificent assurance of Psalm 46 is celebrated in anthems of the church: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. {2} Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” (Psalm 46:1-2 NKJV) Whatever our need, God’s resources, comfort, and presence provide genuine help. Another Psalm testifies to the sufficiency of God’s help:

{17} Unless the LORD had helped me, I would soon have died.

{18} I cried out, “I’m slipping!” and your unfailing love, O LORD, supported me.

{19} When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. (Psalm 94:17-19 NLT)

The New Testament tells just how far God goes to help us in our most abject need: “When we were unable to help ourselves, at the moment of our need, Christ died for us, although we were living against God. (Romans 5:6 NCV) Jesus further assured the disciples that when he was no longer physically present, the Holy Spirit would be with them. Contemporary Bible translations name the Holy Spirit (or Counselor, Comforter, or Advocate in other translations) as “the Helper.” (See John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7-8 NCV, GWT.) When we cry out, “Help! I need somebody! Help! Not just anybody. Help!” God answers.

But receiving help in our hour of need is only one side of the story of help. A wise parent knows that asking a child to help with even simple chores is important to the child’s growth and development. Involving a child in helping may take longer than if the parent just did the task alone. The request for help may or may not be crucial to meeting the parent’s need, but can be essential to the child becoming involved in the community of helping one another. The principle is not limited to relationships between parents and children. Sometimes we all need the help of others because of a real inability to meet some need alone. Other times, asking someone for help is actually for their benefit, to give that person opportunity to grow and share in the community of faith through the help they can provide.

Helping one another is supposed to be a defining characteristic of followers of Christ. It should be an ingrained, natural part of our lives. As Paul teaches, “When we have the opportunity to help anyone, we should do it. But we should give special attention to those who are in the family of believers. (Galatians 6:10 NCV) Paul also noted the importance of becoming personally involved in providing help as a key to growing in faith and receiving the blessings of following Jesus. He cared enough about his Christian brothers and sisters at Philippi to ask them for help, and was gracious enough to accept their help. Paul recalls in his letter to them: “You Philippians remember when I first preached the Good News there. When I left Macedonia, you were the only church that gave me help. {16} Several times you sent me things I needed when I was in Thessalonica. {17} Really, it is not that I want to receive gifts from you, but I want you to have the good that comes from giving.” (Philippians 4:15-17 NCV) Paul learned the secret of being content in whatever circumstances surrounded him, but he recognized the Philippians need to exercise their gifts through helping him, and becoming more mature believers in the process of helping.

Finding yourself in some situation that is over your head? God can help – in fact, God already has and will continue to help. Do you have a need or an opportunity to do something good? Multiply that blessing by asking someone to help you. You may be giving that person an opportunity to employ their spiritual gifts, to become involved in the community of faith, and to grow into the person God created them to be. Asking for help is accepting God’s standing offer of grace and help, and also allowing others to know God’s blessings by providing help to meet another’s need.

Help! Go ahead, do it!

J. Edward Culpepper

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