When I was in seventh grade, I was part of a group project that required a small bit of paper construction. One of the girls in my group was supposed to bring scissors from home that we could use, but she had forgotten to bring them, so we encouraged her to ask our teacher if she could borrow a pair.
Sounds normal, right? You need help, you go to the teacher, right?
Well, I remember watching her ask our teacher to borrow those scissors, and I remember watching the teacher respond completely unlike what our group had imagined.
The teacher started to yell.
He berated her for not remembering to bring scissors and criticized her for being irresponsible. The poor girl started to cry, but the teacher didn’t stop. At last, his final verdict was to refuse to let her borrow the scissors.
Isn’t it funny the things you remember from childhood?
Now, many of us have experienced moments like this—maybe lots of moments like this. Oftentimes it’s easier not to ask for help. “What will the other party say?” “What will they think—that I am weak?” “What if they get upset?” “I’ve asked for help before already; I should know how to do this by now! I’m so stupid.”
If we follow that line of thinking, it can get ugly in a hurry. In the long run, refusing to ask for help usually has a consequence of deep brokenness masked by cold, false independence. It also usually results in stubborn and painful wounds that will not heal without that outside help.
You probably know this.
I wonder how many of us impose that line of thinking even onto God. Has there been a time you’ve felt embarrassed to ask God for help? Or worse yet, what if He gets angry with you?
Let Romans 8:26 set you free.
“The Spirit helps us in our weakness.”
First, let’s gain some quick perspective. The larger preceding context for this verse is the revelation that we will endure suffering. That’s probably not a surprise for you. What may be a surprise, though, is the author challenges his readers that suffering, loss, and difficulty should be fuel for us to hope toward a future, glorious reality (see 8:18-24), where such things will be mere memories and where God’s redemption of humanity will be fully realized.
And until then, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
To bring more perspective, the word “weakness” is translated from the Greek word astheneia, which could also be translated as illness, sickness, or disease. What’s important is that if indeed a person is indeed sick, suffering, or in some way weak, then that person needs help.
And let me again present the truth that will free you: the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
Notice that the Holy Spirit does not condemn us in our weakness or get offended by our weakness. He does not abuse the fact that we have weaknesses or grow weary of our weaknesses. He does not yell at us, or turn His back on us, or hate us, or refuse us. He helps us.
In the upside-down (or rather, rightside-up) Kingdom of God, weakness is a qualification for use by God, and He absolutely delights to help. If you have the time, you can reference 1 Corinthians 1:27, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, and Psalm 46:1.
So if you need help today—help with your finances, help in your marriage, help in your suffering, help in your temptations, help with your job, help in your parenting, help with forgiving someone else or yourself—the Holy Spirit will help you. Yes, our joyful, patient, and compassionate friend the Holy Spirit will help you!
Do not be afraid. Do not hesitate. I know He will welcome you—weaknesses and all—and He will help you.
For more about who the Holy Spirit is and what He is like, click here to read a previous blog of mine.