As a hospital chaplain I am often confronted with the question: How does/can God help? As a Christian, I recognize there are many such questions and challenges, within our own Christian culture, as to what this "helping" of others should look like. Often the resolve is: God helps those who help themselves. It seems like a pretty reasonable statement. After all, why should a capable person sit back and wait for some higher power to rescue them? Surely they can show initiative, perhaps even meet the divine halfway.
The major fallacy in this statement is assuming that people who need help are capable of finding it on their own. Circumstances, waning self-esteem, and compound loss can immobilize us to a point that even thinking about helping ourselves can equate to climbing Mt. Everest. The African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child" is true. Without a compassionate caring community around us it is often impossible to get the help we need.
Simply saying that "God helps those who help themselves," is a polite way of excusing ourselves from the commitment and obligation to those who are struggling. Divine compassionate care comes in the form of our hands, our minds, our connections, shared resources, listening ears, and the sacrifice of time when another is in need. Or, to rewrite the much quoted axiom above, God helps those who are compassioned by others.
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|Article Type:||Letter to the editor|
|Date:||May 1, 2006|
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