“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,
for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
Once upon a time …
Recently, a friend updated the status on her Blackberry phone to say: “So tired of being sick for so long and no help forthcoming.”
I was surprised. I hadn’t known she was ill or that she had needed help. I called her as soon as I could. The conversation went something like this.
Me: “Why didn’t you tell me you were ill? I would have helped out, especially since we’ve known each other like – forever.”
My friend: “Oh, I didn’t want to bother you.”
Me: “Bother me in what way? You must have known you could call me at any time and I’d be there for you.”
My friend: “Yeah, but you have ‘stuff’ going on too and I didn’t want to impose.”
As far as I was concerned yes, we all have ‘stuff’ in our lives but by the end of the call I did find out that she had been seriously ill for several months and was finding it difficult to look after her two young children. I promised to help with some pending job assignments and to check in often even if just to offer a word of encouragement.
And once upon another time …
But let’s take a listen into another similar conversation.
Friend: “Hi Gale, how are you doing?”
Me: “I’m fine, and yourself?”
Friend: “I’m okay for now. Been out of work since January of last year and it’s really really hard to make ends meet so if you hear of anything can you let me know?”
Me: “Since last year? Like seriously? And you didn’t share this with me so I could keep my ears to the ground in case something came up? So what’s up with that?”
Friend: “Yeah, well … you know how it is; lots of people are out of work – but at least now you know.”
Who was I to judge?
I was frustrated. How can I help you if you do not tell me you need help or at least share a little of what’s going on with you? But honestly? I couldn’t blame either friend for not sharing their situations with me because in looking back on my own life, there were times when I conveniently ‘forgot’ to ask for support or help. I didn’t want people to know my husband and I had separated or that I eventually became a divorce statistic, that being a single parent was harder than anything I had ever experienced, that my mother had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was dying as we fed her baby food with a syringe, that I had stopped going to church because of major differences of opinion with the new pastor and my soul was spiritually barren, that life sometimes bowled me such serious curve balls I was barely making ends meet for a very long time. And of course there was no way I could admit to not being able to pray for myself when I was asked to pray for others because wouldn’t that make me nothing more than another great Christian pretender? I needed help indeed; I just couldn’t ask for it.
So why is it so hard to ask a friend for help? Is it pride? Is it fear of being deemed a failure? Or is it that we really do not want to be a bother or inconvenience to another person? Maybe we prefer to look so good on the outside it doesn’t matter what’s choking us on the inside.
Here is what God says
Jesus specifically tells us in Matthew 7:7-8 to: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Notice we are not instructed to wait so someone can read our mind and automatically know what we should be given or what we should be looking for or what door/opportunity should be made available to us. We have to ask to receive, seek to find, and knock so that someone can hear and open the door. It’s all about activity vs. inactivity; about moving faithfully forward with the support of close friends or family (who truly love and care, and who can keep our confidence) rather than a fear of sharing our ‘personal business’ or life circumstances so others can gossip.
And what does God say to His people over and over again? He tells us in no uncertain terms: “Do not be afraid!” And even though He doesn’t say life will get easier as a result of us sucking it up and not being afraid, He does promise to stick with us and to love us conditionally through the thick and thin.
So today is a new day! Let us not tremble in fear of unemployment, sickness, loss of a loved one or having to give up a seemingly important material possession. Let us encourage others, even as we press on so that we in turn are not discouraged by life. Instead, let us put our fears aside and stand tall, because you and I both know in our heart of hearts that God will always (and I say again always) be with us – no matter what happens.
– 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 –
5 Important Life Questions
- What are you most afraid of?
- Are you experiencing a situation that requires support?
- Are you willing to step out and share your circumstances with a friend/family member?
- Is there someone you know of who needs your help?
- If yes, how can you help them without overstepping unseen boundaries?
Please give me the strength to not be afraid. Help me to boldly step out in faith to meet whatever comes my way and to be brave enough to ask or seek or knock so that I may receive, find and have your door opened unto me. And help me to in turn bless others on their journey of life, even as You have blessed me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.