Recently, I was reminded by a well-meaning Christian that the Bible says, “God helps those who help themselves.” The problem with that statement is, God never said that…anywhere. The very thought is contrary to who God is, what He desires to do for us moment by moment, and what He expects of His children, those who call Him Father. Our very life depends on Him, every breath we take, every beat of our heart.
His word tells us to trust in Him with all of our heart and to lean not on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). As theologian Adam Clarke commented, “God is the Fountain of all good. He has made his intelligent creatures dependent upon himself. He requires them to be conscious of that dependence. He has promised to communicate what they need. He commands them to believe his promise, and look for its fulfillment. And to do this without doubt, fear, or distrust; "with their whole heart. Do not prop thyself. It is on God, not on thyself, that thou art commanded to depend. He who trusts in his own heart is a fool.”
We live in a world filled with uncertainty. To try and navigate all the ambiguity and insecurity under our own power only leads to anxiety and fear, or at the very least, more doubt. We are fighting against our human nature and we tend to fall into 3 camps.
- We have no idea who God is but we will call out His name when all else fails. He is our vending machine God we only call on when we find ourselves in over our heads to bail us out. We are just doing the best we can to get through the mess we are in, whether that be a pandemic, poverty, or poor health. But the distress and unease never cease.
- We feel like we are letting God down when we are so weak and vulnerable and rely on Him for everything, so we try to “take some of the burden off His plate.” But that too is contrary to His word and disobedient to His command. “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken (Psalm 55:22).” The righteous are those “right” with God.
- We are completely helpless without Him. We lean on Him and into Him for everything. Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).
Listen to what He told the prophet Jeremiah, “This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. (Jeremiah 17:5-8).”
Vitality comes, not from our own flesh, but the one who trusts in the Lord. Where are you right now? Are you relying on your own strength to weather the storms of life, alone in the desert and filled with anxiety, or casting all your cares on him, strategically rooted right next to the Almighty? It all depends on where you are planted…in the desert depending upon yourself, or next to the life-giving waters of the Lord, depending solely on Him? So, we should strike “God helps those who help themselves” from our vernacular and replace it with, “God helps those who trust in Jesus!”