You’re pregnant with older children to care for, and you’re facing immobilizing back pain. Do you deal with dirty bathrooms and fast food and let your husband pick up as much of the slack as possible?
You want to meet friends for a girls’ night out, but you don’t feel comfortable driving at night. Do you stay home, not wanting to inconvenience anyone by asking for a ride?
In recent weeks, as friends of mine have faced decisions like these, I’ve had occasion to marvel at the beauty of women asking for, giving, and receiving help.
It’s not an easy thing to do. We hate to feel needy; we don’t want to burden others. But when we are ashamed of our weakness, or too proud to admit our need, we commit robbery — denying ourselves the blessings of being served and depriving others of the blessings in serving.
For others to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves is inconvenient to them. To take a meal to a friend, to vacuum her floors or give her a ride, costs something. The task may simply take extra time, it may carry a financial price tag, it may be unappealing in itself. But since when are disciples of Jesus called to lives of convenience, only choosing what is easy and pleasant and free?
What’s incredible is the significance Jesus bestowed on these tasks. When you feed the least of these My brothers and sisters, He said in Matthew 25 — when you offer His people a home-cooked meal or a few hours of babysitting — you are doing it for Me.
How is it that we can serve our Savior so simply and tangibly? How can it be that we could accrue eternal rewards for ourselves in such mundane acts of kindness? If John the Baptist proclaimed himself unworthy to tie Jesus’ sandals, would we not find ourselves honored beyond measure to clean Jesus’ toilet, to do His laundry or give Him a ride?
Yet when we refuse to reach out to our friends or our church body in our time of need, we deny them such opportunities. Dare we rob others in this way?
It takes courage and humility to admit that you’re needy. If I’m honest, I’d much rather be the one doing the serving than the one receiving it. When my husband comes home from a long day at work and immediately jumps in to help with cooking dinner or household chores, my default reaction is often guilt (“I should have gotten that done myself”) rather than gratitude. But he’s not serving me in order to shame me. He’s doing it because he loves me, because he wants to bless me. In doing so, he gives me a clearer picture of the Savior who came not to be served, but to serve (Mark 10:45) — and he inspires me to imitate our great Servant as he is doing.
The blessings don’t only come in the serving. It may be “more blessed to give than to receive” — but it is a blessing to receive. If you can humble yourself enough to set aside feeling like a burden and simply give thanks for the blessing, you’ll likely find that not only are your practical needs met, but you’re also deeply moved by new experiences of God’s love for you.
One of my friends has been blown away by how generously our church has rallied around her in her need, filling volunteer slots almost as quickly as she could make them available. The service and love of humans has been a clear and powerful means for her to experience the Lord’s provision for her needs, His tender care for her. Human hands and feet have expressed the love of God to her. And those of us who have seen or participated in that provision have gotten to marvel right alongside her at how sweet Jesus’ love is, how graciously He meets His people’s needs, and how amazing He is to allow lowly humans to partner with Him in that work, making us vessels of His love and grace.
With these kinds of benefits from helping and being helped, why would we ever try to go it alone?
If you find yourself in a needy place today, I hope you’ll cast off your pride and find the courage to ask for help. If you’re in a position of being able to give, I hope you’ll actively hunt for opportunities to meet needs, perhaps even before others ask. And in the asking, the giving, and the receiving, I trust you’ll get new glimpses of the glory of Jesus’ generosity and grace.