There are lots of things I hope will change because of the pandemic, and one of them is how hard it is to ask for help. Life is too much to do alone — even in times of stability. And our heroes of faith certainly got help. So why— oh why — can’t we let someone help us?
Moses asked for Aaron when God called him to go up against Pharaoh (Exodus 4). Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ arms when he got tired so that Israel could defeat Amalek (Exodus 17:8-16). Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, sat him down for a lesson on leadership development and the dangers of trying to do everything oneself (Exodus 18:13-27).
David survived Saul’s anger because Michal helped him escape (1 Samuel 19:9-18). David asked Jonathan to help him find out if this conflict with Saul could be resolved or if he needed to run (1 Samuel 20).
My personal favorite — when David was on the run and again got cheated, he was about to lose it and kill the man and everyone associated with him. Instead, a servant told Abigail, the man’s wife, who met David with his rightful payment. She negotiated David down, saving the lives of her entire household and teaching David how to be angry without sinning (1 Samuel 25).
But what happens when you ask a friend for help and they make things worse?
This is Job’s story. His friends know him to be blameless and upright, but as soon as calamity befalls him, all that awareness vanishes. Job’s friends choose theology over relationship. Job’s experience directly challenges their belief system that God punishes the wicked and rewards the righteous. Unable to let this experience prune their theology, they twist and contort Job to fit their beliefs. Hence, even though they know differently, they convince themselves that Job must have done something wicked to deserve this.
In the wisdom of Glendale’s youth, Job found out he had “fake friends.” Yet Job knew who he was and that he needed help and took his pain to God — crying out and demanding a fair trial. I have integrity; but God declares me perverse (Job 9:20b). I loathe my life; I will let loose my complaint; I will speak out of my own bitterness. I will say to God, Don’t declare me guilty; tell me what you are accusing me of doing (Job 10:1-2). Why did you let me emerge from the womb? I wish I had died without any eye seeing me (Job 10:18).
God answered — for Job in a whirlwind, with no words about his complaint of unfairness. And yet God’s response is one of the most powerful descriptions of creation we have in scripture. It is a very different story from “God said ... and called it good” of Genesis 1. This insight into creation is of awe-filled beauty and the immense difficulty of creating and sustaining life.
Here’s just a snippet from Job 38:
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Tell me if you know. On what were its footings sunk; who laid its cornerstone, while the morning stars sang in unison and all the divine beings shouted? Who enclosed the Sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment, the dense clouds its wrap, when I imposed my limit for it, put on a bar and doors and said, ‘You may come this far, no farther; here your proud waves stop?’”
This scripture reminds me that life is not easy, even for God. Job’s friends’ theology is about being in control, and Job asked them to face the truth that we humans are not in control. Even though God also wrestles with creation, unlike us created beings, the Creator is in control and sustaining all life (keep reading Job chapters 39 and 40).
For those of you still worried about being angry at God and challenging him, for those who are still nervous about asking for help, here is God speaking to Job’s friends in Job 42:7b:
“I’m angry at you and your two friends because you haven’t spoken about me correctly as did my servant Job.”
Life is hard. It is not a neat and tidy system of the righteous prospering and the wicked perishing. So, let’s be more like Moses and King David and Job — giants of faith who asked for help and took help when it was offered.