by Jed Kampen
A month ago, my wife and I took our nine day old daughter to the emergency room. We waited two long hours to be seen. Finally, we were taken back and after an initial run of tests, the doctor said she thought things would be ok, but we would need to wait in the hospital until the remainder of the tests could be completed. As we waited for the test results, my wife and I realized how much the stress was wearing on us. We were both hungry and had headaches. I texted a friend from church asking if he could bring meds and takeout.
After I sent the text, I wandered around the hospital looking for a place to fill up my wife’s water bottle. As it turns out, the only place to fill up a water bottle is the cafeteria. And cafeterias have food in them for hungry hospital patrons. As I walked into the cafeteria, I thought to myself, “This is dumb. I should just get food here and not make my friend spend money and drive all the way here in rush hour.” No sooner had the thought entered my mind than I got the text from my friend, “I’m on my way.”
I can’t think of four words that could have been more encouraging in that moment. Those four words didn’t just mean my need for ibuprofen and calories would soon be met. They meant far more. They meant that someone knows. Someone understands. Someone cares. Someone loves me. Someone is on the way.
As I walked back into the hospital room with a full water bottle, I walked in with a full heart. I told my wife that our friend was on his way. She looked up at me through tears and smiled. I whispered, “We’re well loved.” Hospital food can’t make you feel like that.
Fast forward a few weeks. I was installing a fence around my garden and discovered that a key element in installing fence is tensioning or “pulling” the fence as it is installed. And like a true home project guy, I hadn’t done my research, because home projects always work out, right? But I soon started to panic because I had no way to pull the fence, and it looked terrible (“trashy” is the word my wife used, if you are curious). So I texted another friend from church, telling him that I had run into trouble with my fence project and needed help. Two minutes later came those same four words, “I’m on my way.” Again, those words meant so much (if you’ve ever been in the middle of a DIY project that looks like it’s about to fail, you know what I’m talking about). Someone knows. Someone understands. Someone cares. Someone loves me. Someone is on the way.
I assume most Christians know, both from Scripture (Acts 20:35) and from experience, that it is more blessed to give than to receive. But I think that many people unwittingly take that to mean that our lives should be characterized only by giving and not by receiving at all. Many would never say this, of course. But picture this with me: Think about your church family. If you took a poll of how many people have blessed someone else in their church family in the last four months, you’d probably see a near universal affirmation with hands raised. How many have been blessed by someone else in their church in the last four months? Again, nearly everyone. But ask this: How many have specifically asked for help in the last six months? Here, I think we would see far fewer hands.
While it is more blessed to give than to receive, it’s still blessed to receive. So ask for help.
There are many reasons why it is still blessed to receive and why it is good to ask for help. But one of the most important of these reasons is that receiving helps us understand the gospel better. In the gospel, we are not the ones helping, we are the ones being helped. We admit we need help and we ask for help from Someone who is willing, able, and pleased to help us.
Perhaps one place where we see this most clearly is in the gospel revealed in the Old Testament. The Old Testament can be a dark, discouraging, depressing, scary, lonely, and sad place. But all through the Old Testament, amidst all the sin, death, discouragement, and trouble, is a driving, building theme of hope and comfort. The message of hope and comfort keeps growing and shining through the darkness. Someone knows. Someone understands. Someone cares. Someone loves me. The whole Old Testament is driving toward the point in history to which John Henry Newman referred when he wrote “When all was sin and shame, a second Adam to the fight and to the rescue came.” God’s message of the gospel in every text of the Old Testament cuts through all the darkness and pain and provides hope and comfort. “I’m on my way.”