Does God Really Help Those Who Help Themselves?


God helps those who cannot help themselves.

I once read about a study in which a sample of people were asked to identify the most well-known scripture in the Bible. The majority of those who responded said, “God helps those who help themselves.” This, in fact, is not found anywhere in the Bible. Instead, God has clearly stated that those who are dependent upon him are those he helps and delights in.

Psalm 147:10-11 says, “His [God’s] pleasure is not in the strength of the horse nor his delight in the legs of a man. The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in [depend on] his unfailing love.”

Additionally, Proverbs 3:5-6 is a beautiful picture of how God helps those who depend on Him: ”Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Even Jesus did not preach that God helps those who help themselves. Instead, he preached dependence on God. He said, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does, the Son does also.” (John 5:19)

In 1 Corinthians 1:25-29 it says that God delights in the foolish things of the world, the weak things, the lowly things, and the despised things. God delights in those who are desperate for Him—because it’s how He glorifies Himself.

Most of us can name a time or two when we have felt helpless. We have been lost, confused, or disheartened. But God never abandoned us (Hebrews 13:5). Our abilities don’t earn us God’s help; He helps us simply because He is good and He is love. Christian musician and singer Tammy Trent has experienced this truth first hand.

On September 10, 2001, Tammy’s husband and high school sweetheart, died in a free-diving accident in the Blue Lagoon in Jamaica. The next day, which happened to be 9/11, no planes were flying--and she couldn’t get home. She was all alone.

In her book, Learning to Breathe Again, Tammy writes that she lay on the bathroom floor of her hotel room and wailed. “I sobbed and moaned and cried so loudly the hard-tiled walls of the bathroom seemed to echo every sound.” In the midst of her pain, Tammy somehow mustered the courage to pray: God, I’m not asking for a hundred angels; I’m just asking for one special angel, just one angel who could hold me right now. God, you’re so big. . . if you can hear me, if you care. . . please do this for me.

Tammy got up and looked out the bathroom doorway. A Jamaican woman, a housekeeper with a concerned look on her face, came in the room and said, “Oh! I’ve been trying to get to you. I could hear you crying. I’ve been trying to get to you.” She paused and stepped toward Tammy. “Could I just come in and hold you?” she asked. Tammy bit her lip and nodded. The woman wrapped her arms around Tammy as she leaned in, dropped her head on the woman’s shoulder, and cried. God showed up in the middle of Tammy’s desperation by sending her an angel in a housekeeping uniform. Through her experience, God has become more real to Tammy.

Whether you feel desperate about your wayward child, losing a spouse, unemployment, or navigating your way toward your purpose, God is always available. Just call out to Him.

He helps those who cannot help themselves.

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