Have you ever gone through a trial that was so heavy and hard that you felt you would literally be crushed beneath the weight of it? If you haven’t yet, I suspect one day you will. And when you do, I want to encourage you to do something really hard. Something that most of us don’t do. Something that will take a bit of humility. I want you to receive, and even ask for help.
I have found that most Americans are independant people who do not like to ask for or receive help. And I am one of them. We think that asking for help will make us look weak or needy. We’re afraid of being a botheration. We feel we’re supposed to be self-sufficient. I mean, my life is my problem. Or is it? Consider Galatians 6:2:
Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
In Scripture we are commanded to fulfill the law of Christ by helping to support and sustain each other under the burdens of life. This means we were not created to be self sufficient. We are to receive help as well as to give it.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important that yourselves; do not merely look out for your own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4 NASB)
I can’t tell you how much it means to have others offer to help when you really need it. Not just on a practical level, but also on an emotional level.
Imagine yourself staggering down a busy street carrying a huge load. You try to be strong. After all it’s your load you’re carrying. You try to look strong, like you’ve got this; so most people don’t even notice it’s too much for you.
Then someone finally notices you’re not standing quite as tall as you once did and they ask if you need anything. The truth is you need a lot of things (a meal, a drink of water, a better backpack, a trolly cart, a double shot of espresso) but you need so much that you aren’t really sure how to answer (or you’re too exhausted to think about it.)
Then you question if these are really “needs” or just luxuries you’re called to do without. So, you shake your head and say, “No, I think I’m fine.” You feel like everyone somehow expects you to be fine.
After all if you admit you aren’t fine, you just might get a lecture about how you should be trusting God or about how you shouldn’t be so focused on yourself. (Nevermind the fact that you can barely walk.) No, if you were a real Christian, you’d be just fine.
But then some compassionate soul comes along and says, “Here, I made you a meal.” Or “Hey, I thought you might could use a better backpack.” Or “Here, I got you an espresso IV.” And all of the sudden you realize that whatever they offered you, it’s just the thing you needed. Sometimes the item itself is what you needed, but more than that, their gift made you realize you aren’t alone. Someone noticed. Someone cared. Someone came alongside and helped to carry that burden. And boy did it make a difference.
So, when the trials of life become too much, don’t be afraid to say, “I can’t do this alone. I need help.” It’s not easy but it is God’s way. You aren’t meant to pull yourself up by your own boot straps and continue on through life pretending like everything’s fine. And in reality, I’d say the road to recovery is much slower when you do.
Not everyone can help and not everyone will want to help, but I think many would like to if they just knew how.
And when you yourself aren’t under such a heavy load, look for others who are and do something to help bear the burden. Something. Anything. It’s what we are called to do.
I appreciate this advice from Edgar Watson Howe:
If a friend is in trouble, don’t annoy him by asking if there is anything you can do. Think up something appropriate and do it.
We’ve all had friends in trouble whom we didn’t know how to help. And right or wrong, the reality is that most of us will never become super comfortable asking for help. It’s hard. Really hard. So, this thought has impressed on my heart to not wait around for the perfect idea when a friend is having a rough time. If we wait for them to tell us what they need, we might not get the privilege of helping to bear the load. Sometimes we need to pick something appropriate and just do it!
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. -Luke 6:31 (ESV)