Helping and Being Helped

One of the highlights of my vocation as a pastor is spending time with our members who are unable to get around.  Often the discussion will center on the health challenges these people face and coming to grips with their gradual (or sudden) loss of ability.  These people spent decades busy helping others. Now the loss of ability brings a loss of purpose. They ask God, “If I can’t _____, then why am I even here?”  I think it’s wonderful that they recognize the value of being helpful.  The challenge is to see that being helped is just as important as helping others.

Ecclesiastes 3 is the famous passage about “a time for everything.”  As it turns out there’s a time even for the things that we prefer not happen!  We live in a broken world, where illness, injuries and the passage of time bring about a gradual loss of our ability to function.  This Bible passage doesn’t say these things are good, but just acknowledges that these things do happen.  Just like there is a time to weep and laugh, or seek and lose, there is a time to help, and a time be be helped.  In fact, it goes more like this: There is a time to be helped, a time to help and then a time to be helped again.  Let me explain.

As an infant, we were unable to help ourselves.  We needed to be fed, clothed, changed, and comforted when the world didn’t respond to our every whim.  Someone needed to help this poor child!  Once upon a time, each of us was that child.  We needed help to simply survive. Gradually we became self-sufficient and took on the responsibility of helping others.  Perhaps it was in a job or with friends or with a child of our own.  Most of us found great value in helping others.  As time passed, we saw the need to help our parents as they aged.  Finally, we got to the age where we required the help of others, much like we did as a child.  There you have it, a time to be helped, a time to help and a time to be helped again.

It shouldn’t surprise us that we enjoy helping others.  God is always helping us.  As far as he’s concerned, we never outgrow childhood.  We need him for everything.  We produce nothing for ourselves.  Everything comes from him, especially our salvation through Jesus!  When we have the  opportunity to help others, we’re just doing as our Father already does for us.  We mimic him.  It’s great.  We may enjoy helping so much we forget that we are still children!  Age reminds us that we need God, and we need each other.  Herein lies the blessing to needing the help of others.  When we allow others to help us, we give them the chance to mimic God.  We help them by cheerfully allowing them to help us.

So, the next time you are in need and someone helps you, let them know how much you appreciate it. While you’re at it, tell them how they are reflecting God’s love as they help you.  Your encouragement might be just what that person needs to keep up the good work.  Chances are, it will make you feel great too.

Photo Credit: Ian MacKenzie 

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