Asking for God’s Help

Asking for God’s Help

Almost everyone appreciates the beauty of nature, but not everyone realizes that God’s creation has some important lessons to teach us. For instance, a queen bee lays each egg in a six-sided cell that contains a certain amount of honey and pollen, and then seals the cell with wax. When the nourishment in the cell is used up, the young bee has to force its way through the wax; in the process, the membrane encasing its wings is rubbed off—meaning the bee is then capable of flying. Without the struggle of breaking out of the cell, it wouldn’t have this new ability. A similar dynamic occurs when a moth struggles to break out of its cocoon; if the process is too easy, its wings remain shriveled and undeveloped. Trials are necessary for personal growth. A rose must be crushed for its full fragrance to be released; a sycamore fruit must be bruised to attain its full ripeness and sweetness; metals such as gold must be heated in a fire to become fully pure. In the same way, our struggles in life often end up preparing ourselves to face and overcome bigger challenges or make use of wonderful opportunities that otherwise would have been beyond our reach (Michael Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, pp. 382-384).

A fable is told about an ant who felt overworked and unappreciated by the members of his colony. He was instructed to carry a piece of straw across a section of concrete. The straw was long and heavy, and the day was hot, and the ant felt sorry for himself, and even wondered if life itself was worth it. Then the ant came to a large crack in the ground; it was too big and deep to cross, and too long to go around. The poor little ant felt the situation was hopeless, until an idea suddenly came to mind: the straw could be pushed across the crack and be used as a bridge. What had seemed a terrible burden turned out to be a blessing (Green, p. 380). So it is in life. We can’t see the future, but God knows in advance all the challenges we’ll face, and all the abilities we’ll need in order to overcome them. He arranges for all the trials and lessons we require in order to complete our life’s journey successfully, and He is always present to help us in our time of need. The only question is whether we will have the necessary wisdom and humility to trust in His plan.

Because of original sin, life is much more difficult than it was supposed to be, and in our labors and responsibilities we often feel heavily burdened and perhaps even overwhelmed. Jesus understands this, and in His great love and humility He is always ready to assist and console us. He invites us, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart,” and He promises that if we do so, we will find rest. In other words, if we put Christ at the center of our lives, everything else becomes easier, more satisfying, and even more meaningful. This is how, in the words of St. Paul, we allow the Spirit of God to dwell in us; this is how we become part of the glorious kingdom described by the prophet Zechariah. The more we try to obey God in all things, the more we are in harmony with His creation—and thus, the more we become capable of living in His peace.

One day a farmer asked his son to remove all the rocks that had accumulated over the years in a certain field. The boy worked hard, spending several hours picking up rocks, putting them in a wheelbarrow, and carting them away. However, there was one boulder he just couldn’t move; he tried rocking it back and forth, rolling it, and pushing it—but nothing worked. Finally giving up, he went back to his father and said, “I did everything you asked, but there was one rock too big for me to move—and I tried everything.” To his surprise, the father responded, “No, you didn’t try everything.” “Yes, I did!” the boy insisted, but again the father said, “No, you didn’t. You didn’t ask me to help you” (Rev. John G. Hillier, Anecdotes & Scripture Notes, p. 108).

If we have a problem or challenge that defies our best efforts to overcome it, no matter what we do, or if we have a worry or fear that we just can’t let go of or learn to live with, we must ask ourselves:  have we truly tried everything—have we asked God for help? I recently presided at a funeral for an older gentleman who truly lived a life of faith, and he used to collect spiritual sayings that he found helpful and inspirational. One of them was this: Prayer should be a first response, not a last resort. All of us should indeed form the habit of immediately asking the Lord for direction, guidance, and assistance whenever we’re confronted with a difficult, confusing, or upsetting situation, and also whenever we face an unexpected decision, possibility, or opportunity. It’s a simple but very wise thing to pray, “Dear God, I need Your help with this; I can’t do it alone. Lord Jesus, how do You want me to handle this situation? I don’t know what to do. Holy Spirit, please show me Your will and help me discover the hidden graces I’m overlooking.” All burdens become lighter, and all blessings more enjoyable, when we share them with someone else—and this is especially true of the One Who knows us, and loves us, far more than we can begin to imagine.

As Jesus teaches in the Gospel of Matthew (11:25-30), it pleases God to veil or hide some of His most profound and important truths from the learned and the clever of this world, and instead reveal them to those who are simple and humble enough to live as His children. I think it’s fair to say that in our society, most people try to make things too complicated—and that merely increases their difficulties, worries, and frustrations. Reality is meant to be much simpler: namely, our Heavenly Father loves us, hears us, and wants us to turn to Him in all our needs. This is the lesson Jesus teaches us—and if we try to live by it, it will make all the difference.

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Written by
Fr Joseph Esper