A couple of years ago I had a display for the chaplaincy work I do, and brought a basket of rocks. I had written words on many of them, and encouraged participants to write their own.
We had written out words: courage, strength, faith and love. And on one rock I wrote the word "Help!"
It was quite popular! :-)
Even though many of us appear to be well put together (sometimes), within all of us is a place where we know we need help.
Of course babies are the best at this. They just cry about it!
But independence sets in early and my darling grandchildren are very quick to point out "I can do it by MYSELF", even though Grandma is more than willing to help.
It can take courage to ask for help. It is a vulnerable place. Recently in our community a father reached out on Social Media and asked for help. His son who was challenged in a number of ways was having a birthday. And none of the invited guests were coming.
It was heart-warming to read the story in the paper the following week, but the community responded to this cry for help, showing up, bringing presents and even a fire-truck got involved. It was a wonderful birthday!
There is another funny fable about a man in a flood who was perched on top of his house, calling out to God for help. There were offers, but none suited him, and he kept saying that God was going to answer. Well, he drowned. And the fact is God had sent all kinds of help but he didn't recognize it.
We can become overwhelmed by all those who need help. Right now our eyes are fixed on hurricanes as they have pummeled the United States and Mexico. Mexico is reeling from a large earthquake on top of this. We are still recovering from a summer of flood and fire in the Pacific Northwest.
And then I saw a news-clip almost hidden in the hurricane stories of mass flooding in India and Bangladesh, and other parts of Asia, where more than a thousand people have died, and others and are crying out for help.
It IS overwhelming.
And yet I am amazed at all the helpers. We need to pray for them. People at the ready, responding to disasters all over the world. I pray for strength, for wisdom to manage resources, for protection.
And how do I respond? I think it is good to do some homework and see how the agencies we give to manage their money. It is good to give, and it is also gratifying to see governments match many of those donations in kind.
Years ago at a widow's retreat I attended a dear elderly pastor gave the sermon. I've probably shared this before, but it is worth repeating! The title of his sermon was "Help!"
The message was about prayer. It is the simplest of prayers, and the most heart-felt. "Help!"
I find I pray it often, because I know I can't do life alone. I pray it as a chaplain when I see the great need and I don't know where to begin. And God gently guides my steps.
I pray it when my body fails me, and I ask the Creator who made it for wisdom for how to take care of myself.
I pray it when I struggle with relationships or schedules or work, because I know I need help. And I have found God is faithful to answer that simple prayer!
I am grateful for a God who is personal, who I can reach out to and cry for help. And I pray for all the helpers who are also responding to the many around this world who are crying out for help. I pray those needs would be met, and know that God can use all of us to help, through prayer, through giving and through compassion.