Recently, my 7-year-old son, Will, came home with instructions from his teacher to review his double-digit addition skills. When we sat together at the kitchen table to work practice problems, he slouched over the page with his pencil hovering over the first problem for several minutes before he looked up at me with uncertainty.
“Do you need help?” I asked.
Clearly he did, but he shook his head and continued pondering the problem through the blur of tears filling his eyes. It seemed he thought that the answers would come flooding out if he sat there long enough. I imagined him sitting at his desk at school doing much the same thing, with the hope that his silence and eager pencil would fool his teacher into believing he knew what he was doing.
I gently prodded: “Will, it seems like you don’t know what to do. Have you asked your teacher for help with this?” He shook his head and burst into tears, telling me he was afraid to ask for help.
I thought later about the reassurance I gave him: “Everyone has to ask for help sometimes.” Initially, it had seemed silly to me that Will chose an entire class period of confusion and panic over simply raising his hand to ask for help.
But then I considered how much I am like my son.
When life is emotionally difficult or I am struggling with sin, I’m afraid to raise my hand and ask for help. I’m afraid to draw attention to myself, admit my weaknesses, or confess my need for fear of inconveniencing others or being rejected. So often I sit with tears in my eyes and a pencil poised over a problem I don’t know how to solve while the Lord patiently questions why I haven’t asked for help. “You have asked Me for help, but have you asked the loving, wise people I’ve purposefully put in your life? They are my answer to you.”
We all, at some point, are overwhelmed with burdens that are too heavy for us each to carry alone. Sometimes God acts in our lives without using others to meet our needs, but His normal mode of operation is to use wise believers in the Body of Christ—His church— to help us understand, grow, and grieve. The catch is that we cannot receive their ministry unless we raise our hands and ask for help.
What keeps us from raising our hands? We’ve misunderstood the church to be a group of put-together people, rather than a gathering of broken, needy people collecting together to drink from God’s grace. Sometimes we feel the pressure to have everything under control. Or perhaps we’ve experienced rejection and condemnation from those in the church who appear religious, but lack an understanding of their true brokenness and need.
Soon after my discussion with Will, my pastor-husband and I experienced deep discouragement and spiritual neediness beyond what we could handle ourselves. We needed prayer and love from our community of faith, but I hesitated to ask for it. Finally, remembering Will and feeling God’s nudge, I revealed our need to a few trusted friends and church leaders. With love and thoughtfulness, they came to our side and ushered us to the grace of God, urging us to drink from His fountain again.
I’m glad I raised my hand.
By Christine, The Hoover HouseholdLeave a Comment
thank you for the reminder,i often forget to raise my hand and ask for help when i’ve hit a rough patch in life. so very thankful for the people he’s placed in my life.
Brenda Wishin says
A a teacher this reminded me of two things. First to remember to ask God’s help instead of feeling frustration, and second to watch for those who need help and are afraid to ask.
For years I taught in a parochial school, where I taught the kids to pray before every difficult assignment or test,
When I switched to public school, I could no longer do that, but I need to figure out a way to reincorporate that into my teaching. Any politically correct ideas?
Christine Hoover says
I have a public-school teacher friend who walks around the room while her students are working, placing her hands on them, and silently praying for them. Perhaps as you do that, the Lord will give you discernment about who needs extra attention academically or emotionally.
I love your heart for your students!
Beth Williams says
How soo very true! Some churches make you feel like you need to be perfect with no problems.
I now attend a small, friendly church & find it easy to ask for help or to pray for others. We must all stop & look around us to see the hurting & helpless & just say a prayer for them or give them encouragement.
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domestic extraordinaire says
this morning I prayed that I would know what to do in a certain situation in my life right now. It seems that I can’t get it right and I keep trying to do it all myself. I am so thankful that He put this post in your heart to write and that I felt lead to click through. I truly needed this today as my hand is now raised and I wish I had only done it sooner.
Christine Hoover says
I’m so glad God used it in that way and I’m glad you raised your hand! I’m praying that the people around you will gather around you to offer you grace.
Holley Gerth says
I was just telling a couple of friends the other day how hard it is for me to receive. I can totally relate to this. I need to remember that it’s okay to raise my hand and ask for help. Thanks for helping me do that today!
Living the Balanced Life says
Such a good story! And I can definitely relate. I was in a tough bind last year, and would not admit I needed help. It has been a lesson I have had to learn.
Letting go of who I thought I was supposed to be
This is a very needed post. I know my diffuculty comes from too many critical people in the body of Christ. It is almost as if they look for times to grab, and sadly blab about. It is so true as you said, that happens when one lacks understanding of their own brokenness.
I am happy to say I have a few faithful ladies to confide in who lift me up in prayer and encouragement.
I have always been blessed to have compassion in my heart, and I pray it always stays. I want to be the one who reaches out to the broken and gives a hand of encouragement.