Thursday, June 13, 2013

Help Wanted

From where does my help come? (Psalm 121:1)

Sooner or later we all need help.

All of us know this is true. Some of us are slow to admit it. And when it comes to actually asking for help, that’s a different matter entirely. I have known good people who would do anything thing for me. If their presence was needed, they’d be right there. If something else was needed, they’d give it if they had it.

But the last thing in the world they would ever do is ask for help. To do so would be a violation of some unspoken code of honor. It would be an imposition on others and an embarrassment to themselves. They will give you the shirt off their back, as the saying goes. But they’ll freeze to death before asking for the same.

Very often we gage the largeness of a soul by its capacity to give help. We recognize depth of heart by its willingness to feel compassion and be present to someone who is in need. But perhaps this isn’t an entirely accurate way to assess the health of the human soul. A willingness to receive help may reveal just as much about a person as their willingness to give it.

Here’s the danger: Just as a willingness to give help speaks to our benevolence, the refusal to accept help from others may point to a subtle pride. We love to play the hero, though never overtly seeking applause. But we dread being seen as needy and insufficient. Thus, we gladly go to the rescue. We never call for help.

Psalm 121 begins with the assumption that we need help. The Psalm opens with the Psalmist looking for help – looking around at the hills. Eugene Peterson argues that this ‘looking to the hills’ actually refers to places of idol worship, the site of shrines and Ashera poles that tempted God’s people to faithless disobedience. The sight of these false places of worship gave rise to a question: “Where does my help come from?”

That we need help is never questioned. The only question has to so with where we will find it. The answer is given immediately. “My help comes from the Lord.” This kind of help is constant, faithful, never failing, life-long. This isn’t simply help that we need. This help we want. We seek it every day because we need it every day.

What do you need help with today: A decision, a relationship, a circumstance in your life that will not change, or a change in your life you didn’t want? There is no simpler prayer than “help me.” And the God to whom we pray is an “ever present help in trouble.”

We give you thanks, O God, for your faithful help. Grant us grace that we might humbly seek it, knowing that your sufficiency is demonstrated in our need. Help us today, we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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