Although it did not originate with him, Benjamin Franklin, in the 1736 edition of Poor Richard’s Almanac, popularized the saying, “God helps those who help themselves.” This proverb was actually much older, having been the moral of one of Aesop’s Fables, Hercules and the Waggoner.
However, many people, including many Christians, mistake this well-known saying as Biblical. In point of fact, the meaning of this non-Biblical proverb is antithetical to Biblical Christianity. God, alone, is our helper and He helps those who cannot help themseleves.
In both the Old Testament and the New Testament, Scripture declares that God is a helper. But, not just any helper. He is OUR helper. He is a helper to the helpless. When does He provide help? The good news is that God provides that help to you and me TODAY:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. ”Psalm 46:1 (ESV)
Because God is our helper — present tense — we do not have to fear. No matter our circumstances in life, even dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic — we can be assured of God’s help today. And, should we have tomorrow, He will be our help then, too.
“Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”Psalm 46:2-3 (ESV)
For most people in America and around the world, the circumstances that we have experienced these last four months due to the Coronavirus have been earth-shattering. The death, destruction, and economic upheaval have been mind-boggling. The hopes and dreams that so many had at the beginning of 2020 quickly turned into their worst nightmares. With nearly 140,000 deaths in the United States as of July 19, 2020, the number of families who are grieving is simply staggering.
In the darkest days of this storm, many have asked, “Where is God? Has He left us? Has He forgotten us?” On the contrary, God is always here. He has not left us. He has not forgotten us. He does not take breaks. God does not take time off. He does not social distance. And, He is not on lockdown mode.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”Psalm 121:1-2 (ESV)
The One, True God — the maker of heaven and earth — is offering you His help. Wow! What an unbelievable offer. An offer you shouldn’t refuse. However, many (most) people today refuse God’s offer of help? Why? Because His help comes in and through His Son, Jesus, who was sent to help humanity with the greatest need of all — our sin:
“For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person — though for a good person someone might even dare to die. But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners (i.e., helpless to save ourselves), Christ died for us.”Romans 5:6-8 (CSB)
If you are looking for help apart from God, then you will be sorely disappointed. If you are pinning all your hopes on science, scientists, and so-called “experts,” you will find yourself hopelessly confused. If you are putting your trust in politicians, regardless of the political party, you will find your mistrust growing every time they open their mouths. If you are putting your faith in your own good works as a way to help yourself to heaven, you will remain helpless and hopeless to the bitter end.
So, what to do? No matter the circumstances of life that you encounter on a daily basis, God is your helper. Apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). But, with His help, we can do all things in and through Jesus Christ who gives us the strength (Philippians 4:13).
How can God help you today? With your marriage? With your children? With your finances? With your job? With your health? With your salvation? With your fight against sin? Remember, God helps those who cannot help themselves. That’s us. That’s you. That’s me. Today, let us boldly say with the writer of Hebrews:
The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”Hebrews 13:6