When Helping Others Helps Us
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
I don't like open heights. I can't stand narrow balconies. And when driving across a bridge, you'll find me hugging the rail along the inside lane. A few years ago, our friends John and Laura tried to help me conquer this fear of heights by inviting our family to an indoor rock-climbing center. My heart raced as we entered the doors and faced the highest peak at 25 feet.
The instructors assured me that a web of ropes and harnesses would hold me tight. Before I could say "no thank you," I was signing an injury waiver and getting strapped in.
After a few practice rounds, I started to climb. Little by little, I went higher and higher. But I never could get past my fear of climbing to the highest peak of 25-feet. I needed something to help me overcome my anxiety and this high rock wall! Our friend's eight-year-old son Steven needed help too.
Towards the end of the day John asked Steven if he wanted to climb to the highest peak. Steven wasn't crazy about heights either, but he loved a challenge.
With admiration I watched as Steven started the climb with confidence. He made it to 10 feet, then 15. But as he inched past the next face of the wall, he looked down. Realizing how high he was and how far he still had to go, he insisted he couldn't do it.
By this time, Steven's dad was consoling their very fussy 3-year-old and his mom was feeding their hungry infant daughter. My brave husband was not close by, and I quickly realized the only one standing there with a free hand to do something was me!
Suddenly courage and strength surged through my body and I called out, "Don't give up buddy. You can do it. I'll help you!"
In record time, I reached Steven to encourage him, reminding him of how far he'd come. I told him he could make it up to 25 feet with God's strength and that it would be worth it if he'd persevere. Remembering Joshua 1:9, I encouraged him, "Be strong and courageous Steven. Don't be afraid; God is right there with you and I am too."
Filled with new confidence, Steven turned his eyes and his thoughts toward the reward of getting to a place he had stopped believing he could reach.
And the same thing happened in me. The voices of my own fears were silenced by focusing on helping someone overcome theirs.
In that moment, I realized the promises I had claimed for Steven were true for me, too. My anxiety could be overcome and my fears conquered with God's strength.
Each day we have the same opportunity. Like God did with Joshua in Joshua 1:9, and like He does with us, we can come alongside each other in some of life's hardest challenges and highest peaks. We can remind others of this truth from God's Word too.
Isn't it amazing that when we take our eyes off our fears, doubts, and struggles to focus on someone else's needs, we somehow forget our own? And in believing the power of God's promises for others, our confidence in His promises for us increases.
Let's look for ways to encourage and help someone else today, knowing we may just help ourselves in the process.
Jesus, Your words give me courage to become who You've created me to be, to go to places You're calling me to and to reach heights that seem out of my reach. Thank You for encouraging my heart. I want to pass that on to someone else today. In Your Name I pray, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
How has someone's encouraging words or God's words of encouragement helped you do things you never thought you could?
Encourage someone today with one of God's promises and a prayer. It could be the very thing they need to overcome doubt, discouragement and defeat.
Psalm 10:17, "You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry." (NIV)
Psalm 56:3, "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you." (ESV)