From time to time in the course of normal life we have to recognise and assess our situation and (as appropriate) ask for help from those able to assist. However, some people do not do what they are able to or attempt to alter their situation, and so they remain in a disadvantaged environment or needlessly enlist others to do for them what they are capable of. In pastoral situations guidance and wisdom from the Lord are required to know the appropriate response to the many different and often complex situations confronting us. Some are long-term conditions needing extended handouts while others only require short-term hand-ups through a particular crisis. Still others need specialist treatment or counselling. Am I sensitive to the plight of others, coming to the aid of those struggling in society and in need of assistance or encouragement? Even if things are grim for you endeavour to reach out with Christ’s love to those who are worse off.

We are all utterly helpless because of sin and condemned because of it (Rom 3:23, 6:23). Paul wrote, “When we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:6). God, who helps the helpless, stepped into our predicament and provided a means of escape through Jesus (Rom 5:8; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Jn 1:7). Jesus saw us as “harassed and helpless,

Commit yourself into His security – Luke 23:46

like sheep without a shepherd…ready to be caught and dragged off”, unable to do anything about our eternal predicament (Ps 10:9; Mt 9:36).

Even though we must totally rely on Christ for the gift of salvation, we must respond  for this to be effective – to repent of sin, accept His pardon and live a new life with His help. As we do what we are able He will honour and enhance our efforts – “The Lord worked with them…” indicates they were vitally involved in a partnership (Mk 16:20). So although the saying, ‘God helps those who help themselves’ is not in the Bible there is a good deal of truth in it. Our salvation is not reliant on our efforts, so we can’t boast, but it does require an intentional choice from us to be effective (Eph 2:8,9). This includes verbal confession (the owning up to our sin), followed with the remorse of repentance which results in a lifestyle change.

At the time of the crucifixion some who did not comprehend God’s master plan scoffed saying, “He saved others but can’t save Himself” (Mt 27:42). Like our Saviour we can but make our requests known to God knowing He is a God of infinite love, working everything out for our good (because we love Him), even though in the short-term the answer may be vastly different from what we hoped (Rom 8:28; Phil 4:6). Take comfort that what happened to Jesus was by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge – it was working out the divine master plan for He is always in total control (Act 2:23).

The plagues and disasters that affect either a specific locality or the whole world are largely beyond human intervention. While it is right to do what we are able with our God given natural abilities (the arm of flesh), our hope should be focused in God (2 Chr 14:11, 32:8; Ps 20:7, 25:3,5,21, 42:5,11; Isa 31:1). While we should take precautions we can

Don’t focus on what is against you, but Who is for you

confidently commit ourselves into God’s hands, claiming, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right” for in Him we trust, and He replaces fear with hope, joy and peace (Gen 18:25; Ps 25:1, 56:4; Isa 25:9; Rom 15:13).  Even in overwhelming situations God strengthens those who are committed to Him, and so we can take consolation that one day the confines and pain of this life will be replaced with the eternal glories of heaven (2 Chr 16:9; Ps 16:8; Heb 12:2; 1 Pet 3:12). May we have the true perspective of the spirit dimension where the Lord is Almighty, that is, greater than anything which endeavours to crush us (2 Kgs 6:17; 1 Jn 4:4). Like Job said, “Even if He kill me, yet I will hope in Him” – our confidence and hope can remain securely grounded in Him (Job 13:15).

See also: dependence, handout/hand-up, help/helper, victim, victim mentality, vulnerable.