Believe. Trying to sell me a product, the email promised: “If you believe you can or you can’t – you’re right.” I wasn’t buying what it was selling, but the tagline stuck.
It is a truth that what we believe is POWERFUL, and can limit – or – inspire us. As Christians, we’re not limited to believing in ourselves. We believe in a powerful God who can work for us and through us to accomplish the impossible.
Faced with a troubled and difficult year, we can say with St. Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13). When we are at the end of our ability, capacity or tolerance, we have a source of supernatural strength. Our God is with us, empowering and strengthening us for the challenges we face. We don’t earn His help – we merely have to request it.
But – we actually have to ask. In Matthew 7, Jesus says: “Ask and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. … What man of you, if his son asks him for bread will give him a stone?”
We have to ask God for the strength to do the thing in front of us. We don’t do the hard things on our own power, we do them through God’s power. When we’re faced with a challenge that overwhelms or seems unending (as with the pandemic), and we have come to the end of our strength, God will supply what we need when we ask for it and help us to do what we cannot.
I’m reminded of a recent experience when our family was at a cabin in the mountains. We were delighted when snow began to fall, until it came time to dig out and go home. Eighteen inches of snow on a long driveway sat between our cars and the road out. It was going to be a long, hard job. My sons and husband headed out with shovels to start the arduous task of clearing a path.
We were surprised when they came back in 15 minutes later. Job done, they announced. It turned out that the neighbor across the way had a tractor with a snow plough – and volunteered to clear the driveway. In short order the job was completed. What was going to take several man-hours of labor was done in a flash.
To press the metaphor: When we’re faced with a long, arduous road full of hard labor and insurmountable obstacles, we need a tractor. The Holy Spirit is the tractor. We shouldn’t wait until we’re at the end of our rope to call on the power of God to assist us. “God helps those who help themselves” is NOT in the Bible.
As Psalm 145 says, “The Lord is near to all who call on him.” God’s assistance isn’t always flashy, but He ALWAYS responds. Throughout Scripture, God promises to be close to us, provide for us, care for us.
“I am the Lord Your God who grasp your right hand, It is I that say to you, fear not, I will help you.” – Isaiah 41