A few weeks ago my husband and I said our nightly prayer as rains were pouring over our area. Before he walked back to his office to resume his studies, we discussed how we planned on spending the next day finding people in need of help from the flooding that was taking place.
Apparently, that might have been a bit premature.
I woke up a few hours later to the sound of furniture being moved. As that’s not a normal nighttime event in our house, I went to check on the situation and found our living room slowly filling with water. Midway through the next morning we were quite a scene as we trudged down the street in several feet of water, clad in our wet-weather attire, to a friend waiting to rescue us to his warm, dry home.
In the end, we were better off than many. Thanks to the architect in the 70s who designed our home, our living room is sunken down lower than the rest of the house and therefore kept the damage contained to that area. Even with that being the case, the last few weeks have had their own share of stress and difficulties (if at all possible, I do encourage everyone to avoid all natural disasters while pregnant and hormonal). We have, on numerous occasions, been reliant on our friends and church family in a variety of ways.
In many ways, I could not be more grateful. Love and prayers and support of all kinds can be so overwhelming and kind. But in other ways, I hated it.
Don’t misunderstand me. I never hate the goodness of others. Far from it. But I hated needing it. Like most Christians I know, I love to help. I love to serve. I love to do good and show God’s love to others. Mission trip? Yes. Soup kitchen? I’m there. You need prayers? On it. But I don’t necessarily like being on the other side of it. I come from a culture where pride comes from independence, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, and not needing to take handouts from anyone.
In Scripture, the heroes are the ones we want to emulate. We want to be Esther, bravely risking her own safety for the good of her people, and not the Jews who would have been lost without her. We want to be Joseph, trials and all, who ultimately prevailed and saved the whole nation, and not the nation in need of saving. We want to be Barnabas, willing to offer forgiveness and second chances, and not Mark, who was in need of a second chance. Hopefully throughout our lives we take more advantage of opportunities to give and live less in a way that will cause us to need.
But sometimes things are out of our control. A flood. A tornado. Cancer. Death. Divorce. The choices of others. Trials and tragedies of different sizes can and will come to each of us and at some point we all reach a point where we have to say “I need help” to others.
God doesn’t want us to think we’re invincible. He doesn’t want us to believe we are able, in any way, to be independent, to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. We can’t. We never will be able to. When we start to believe we can, we miss the entire purpose of Jesus sacrificing Himself for us. We miss the point of the church being established. God wants us to rely on Him and on one another.
This doesn’t just need to happen in the “big” ways. We need to rely on each other daily. Often it isn’t until a burden seems too big to carry that we finally share it with others. Each one of us struggles daily: with sin, with doubt, with worries and anxiety, with all sorts of things. But we walk around with smiles on our faces saying “I’m fine thanks, how are you” because most people are too scared to let others see the flaws we don’t want to admit exist.
It isn’t until we own up to our inadequacies and admit we need one another that the church truly flourishes the way God intended. He wants us to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2), but to do so often requires us to admit we have burdens we need help bearing. We have to allow others the opportunity.
A friend sent a text message during the events of the flood saying: “We remember these days, and they make us more mindful of people in distress.”
I’m thankful that, in the days and weeks that followed, my husband and I were able to find ways to serve those around us. I’m also thankful for the people that served us when we were in need. And I pray that we all look for opportunities to both acknowledge the limits of our humanity and build others up whenever possible. That we don’t wait for something truly terrible to happen, but in our regular lives we have the willingness to concede our imperfections and help others with the daily trials we all face.
God is great. As is His church. Let’s not attempt to let our pride limit that.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11
(Special thanks to Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort for their donations to our area and partnering with our congregation to help. Please check out this fantastic organization.)