“But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O Lord, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat. For the oppressive acts of ruthless people are like a storm beating against a wall.” – Isaiah 25:4.
As a kid, perhaps the greatest words you could hear from an adult was “help yourself.” Hearing that phrase meant that you had permission to help yourself to another piece of pie, or candy or treat. Grandma was especially fond of saying those magical words, “help yourself.” There was nothing like having carte blanche to indulge in things that were typically rationed. Self-help books are available in virtually every subject. In the library, they have their own section. There are online education opportunities. There are numerous ways we can help ourselves.
You have probably heard the phrase “God helps those who help themselves.” There are people who believe that phrase comes from the Bible. Trouble is, the Bible does not say that. 1 John 3:17 says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” The Bible does not give pre-existing conditions for generosity.
If someone is struggling with addiction, telling them to help themselves does not work. There are trials and circumstances in our lives that we have little chance of changing by ourselves. Fortunately, God has a tender spot for those who can’t help themselves. Fortunately, is the right word when you consider it is impossible to do anything good apart from Him.
We all have things we want to do. God knows this; indeed. He created us with certain skills, abilities, desires and dreams. Isn’t it good to know, though, that it isn’t all on your shoulders, that it isn’t all dependent upon your cleverness and intelligence and resources and connections? Sooner or later we run into a brick wall that we can’t get around or over. It is in those times we discover our abilities are finite. God however is not finite, or limited at all.
God doesn’t sit back and wait to see how much you’re helping yourself before He will come to your aid. We do need to be working out our salvation, but it can’t be done without God’s help. Some things are too much for us to take on and the good news is that God helps those who can’t help themselves, those who have no control over situations in this life, and those who are weary and worn. It is at these times that we can lean on Him to guide us through each and every circumstance.
- What do you think of the phrase God helps those who help themselves?
- How does this phrase affect how you look at helping others less fortunate than we are?