Whenever someone offered to help me with anything, my automatic response used to be, “Oh, you’re so sweet! No, I’m good.” Whether the roots were pride or fear, my brain automatically Google-translated any well-meaning “I’d love to help you with” offer into a negative criticism that sounded to me like: “I think you’re falling apart, and clearly, you’re failing at life.”
Once, I wrestled with a dear friend’s loving offer to help me move after prayer and many trusted voices affirmed that it was time for me and my near-adult children to move from our home. My warped Google-translate kicked in as my insecurities fired up. It didn’t take long for me to reply: “Thank you for offering, but I’m good. I can handle it.”
Is your knee-jerk reaction when a friend offers to help the same? What’s puzzling is that most of us love helping others, but we bristle at the thought of them offering to assist us. It’s wild how we can apply one set of beliefs about ourselves yet create a completely different set of beliefs for others in the same situation. How do we give ourselves permission to willingly and joyfully accept help, whether we think we need it or not?
A single question sparked a spiritual breakthrough on this accepting-help issue for me. As I packed up my near-adult children’s books and blankets, tears dripped on the cardboard boxes. I was worried about taking them away from the only home they’d ever known and grieving the circumstances that made our move necessary. Somewhere between stacking one box and preparing another, I heard a clear whisper fill the air around me: Barb, don’t you want your children to see the hands and feet of Jesus working around them on one of the most difficult days of their lives?
The aha moment came when I realized that God didn’t send my friend to help me with boxes and bedsprings. Instead, God was sending her to show my children and me divine signatures of His presence and His hope, which we needed more than a workforce for the move.
In Matthew 4, Jesus endures the trial of Satan’s temptation in the desert for forty days and forty nights. Put yourself in Jesus’ weary place. After that experience, the human side of Jesus would have been worn out. The final verse of that ordeal offers a powerful insight that can reprogram your automatic response if accepting help is hard for you:
The devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.
Matthew 4:11 (NLT)
First, we can always cheer when the devil finally leaves us alone, right? However, the aha moment in this verse is seeing not only that the angels came to care for Jesus but also that Jesus accepted their help. I can imagine them showing up with warm food, a soft blanket, and their compassionate presence. If Jesus were like me, He would have said, “No, thanks, I’m good” or “There are other people who need help more than me.” But He didn’t do that. Instead, Jesus allowed Himself to be ministered to by the angels. His divine nature wasn’t diminished by accepting help from others. Just as God sent those angels to minister to Jesus, today God sends people to minister to us as well.
What stands out to me is this: Jesus accepted help, so we can and should too.
Could Jesus have gotten Himself together on His own? Yes, but God lovingly sent the angels to minister to Jesus anyway. For all the times we pray and ask God for help, He often sends it through others. But the hard part is letting down our guard rails of pride, fear, or embarrassment to receive it.
After my spiritual breakthrough moment and difficult move, I told God that I would say yes to any and all offers from friends over the next thirty days. I wanted to give God every opportunity to reprogram my automatic response and deprogram any lingering pride and fear about accepting help that remained in me. God honored that request and sent more friends to surround us with love and support during that rough time. While we experienced an outcome that I prayed we wouldn’t go through, God sent others to minister to us each step of the way.
As you reflect on the offers of help that come your way throughout the day or during the week, how might God be wanting to convey His love and care for you through others?
Check out Barb’s recent Bible study, Surrendered: Letting Go and Living Like Jesus about Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness and how we can learn to let go of control.
Thanks, Barb, for an excellent reminder that offered help is a gift from God. As a person who regularly says, “no thanks, I’m good” when offered help, I will be more open to accepting it as a blessing rather than think of it as a show of weakness on my part. Well said! Thanks to you for your help……..May God bless you as you have been a blessing to me this morning!
Barb Roose says
Louisa, we are two peas in a pod, aren’t we?! I’m so glad that today’s post connected with your heart and that you’re open to the blessing that God has for you. Thanks for stopping by (in)courage today!
Robin Dance says
Well, first…WELCOME TO INCOURAGE! Out of the gate, you’ve celebrated Jesus so beautifully.
I often think of God as “giver,” but not in terms of “receiver.” Thank you for pointing out this trait in Jesus. You’ve made it clear that when we receive help from others, we’re bearing his image in this world. I’ll be thinking about that differently today and going forward.
Barb Roose says
Hi Robin! thank you for your kind words and warm welcome – as well as your thoughts on today’s post. I’m sure that many other women will connect with your reflections and I love that today’s post has opened up a new perspective for you!
Ruth Mills says
Years ago when my Dad died we knew there would be the onslaught of casseroles coming our way. Locally there was only my Mom living in a retirement village with all her meals provided & my husband & I on diets that brought in meals would sabotage. God whispered the casseroles are not to help you grieve, Ruth, it’s how your friends express their own grief & you need to let them. We compromised & let them feed our gathered family a feast the day of Dad’s memorial service. Everyone was blessed by that compromise. And a ministry of feeding grieving families the day of funerals began at our church; so our allowing help in a tangible, manageable way planted a seed for blessings beyond our small already provided for family. Accepting help with boundaries is how I’ve balanced the knee jerk Thank you, but no in me.
Barb, I can tell you are going to help us, encourage us & challenge us by sharing your writings! Thank you!
Barb Roose says
This is beautiful, Ruth. Thank you for sharing your story and life experience with us. Wow! What a powerful story on how God has blessed others in your church through your family’s willingness to say “yes” to accepting help. Love it!
Four year ago I became a widow. I too did not readily accept help until then. I had an older and wise friend who had been a widow for a long time and she told me it is ok to accept help; actually it is important to do so and to think of it as a gift to the other person. I took her advice- not easy at first but I am so glad I have changed my ways. It has deepened my friendships. I never thought about how Jesus accepted help but what a beautiful vision of the angels tending to Him. Thank you and welcome!
Barb Roose says
Madeline, thank you for stopping by (in)courage today. Your story and reflection is powerful and I believe that God will use your comment to minister to another today. I’m also glad that you were encouraged by Jesus’ example in today’s post as well.
Welcome to (In)Courage, Barb! This is just what our ladies group was talking about last night. We’re so much better at offering and meeting needs of others than accepting help ourselves. I love the reminder of how Jesus accepted the help of the angels ministering to him. Thanks for this.
Barb Roose says
What great timing! Thank you for sharing this with us, Gail.
Melinda S says
It is very hard for me to accept help also. But I remember once being told “don’t rob the other person of the joy of blessing you” that stuck with me! Very powerful! People are blessed by helping others, and if you say no…. Then you are actually robbing them of their joy!! Something to ponder….
Wonderful thought provoking devotion!!
Barb Roose says
That’s a good word, Melinda. Thank you for your comment and I’m glad that you enjoyed today’s devotional.
Lisa Wilt says
You’re right Barb. As Women we love to help others. Accepting is harder. Thank you for reminding me to say YES and be appreciative! Your story is an important one to share as you did in Kansas City at the Church of the Resurrection where we met. Back then, I had just published my first book. With God’s help, I’ve now published 4 and am currently writing the 9th with plans (God willing) to launch one each year. When it comes to publishing, I have been the recipient of help from many…and for that I am grateful! Lisa Wilt
Barb Roose says
Hi Lisa! Nice to see you here. I’m glad that you enjoyed today’s devotional and congratulations on all that’s happening in your publishing journey since we met years ago.
Beautiful reminder of how God can answer prayers by bringing those answers through others.
Barb Roose says
Anen, Susan! Yes!!!
Grace Hejnal says
Such a powerful lesson! We need to be honest with ourselves when we’re not okay, and pray against the pride that will hinder a believer from being obedient to the Lord’s call. Jesus in human form was needy, just as we are. Of course He could have taken care of himself, but I think you’re sharing the lesson we often miss: it’s okay to take the help. Will definitely do that from now on! Thank you.
Barb Roose says
Hi Grace! Thank you for stopping by (in)courage today. Your wise words and encouragement are so appreciated! So good to see you this weekend at the Women of Hope event!
Barb, your words really hit home to me. I’ve often refused help and been glad when people ignored my response and helped anyway. And most of us love helping! You’re right about that, too. I look forward to hearing more from you!
Becky Keife says
Barb, what a powerful lesson! Yes, even Jesus allowed Himself to be cared for. It reminds me too of all the times Jesus asked the disciples to go with Him to pray. Jesus could have done it all on His own, but He chose not to. Some of the most powerful times in my life of experiencing the presence and provision of God have come through the helping hands of others. He is so kind like that!
Beth Williams says
Welcome to In Courage. So glad you are here. By not accepting help we are robbing people of their blessings. I’ve learned over the years to accept the help God sends my way. Later in life I try to pass it on down to others-maybe even the same people. Using the principle of reaping & sowing. Recently God has decided to bless me immensely. In light of those blessings I’ve gone out of my way to help & bless others. I volunteer with Loaves & Fishes food bank in town-part of Second harvest. Last Saturday 04/02 I was at a local grocery store with others asking for food donations. I even gave some myself. My feeling is you never know what someone is going through.
Jessica Stone says
What a revelation! Thank you for sharing this.
karyn j says
barb, thank you for talking to me at just the time that i needed it. i’ve been thinking lately that an (in)courage post i read some months ago. she basically said that it’s easy to be the helper, but not so easy to be the helped. (guilty!!) that has been playing over and over again in my head over the past few weeks. thank you for reminding me that help does not equal you are weak and incapable. help means you are humble enough to accept what someone else is offering rather than trying to do it on your own. (still working on that part :-/ )
Susan Ashcraft says
Welcome to (in) Courage, Barb! I sooooo needed to read your words today. I love giving but find it so difficult to receive. It IS wild how we can develop 2 very different sets of beliefs and not see the incongruity of it all. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and these very uplifting and loving words. Many blessings to you.