Oh God, can you please help me?

November 03, 2017

George Hemmings of Christ Church Anglican. Photo by Luke Hemer.

IN A moment of desperation have you ever found yourself crying out for help from God?

It’s something that all of us, no matter whether we regularly darken the doors of church or not, find ourselves doing when we’re faced with a situation that we can see no earthly way out of.

It might be the moment as you sit down for an exam, knowing that there are things you haven’t studied for.

It might be while you are waiting for a diagnosis or to hear how the latest treatment has gone.

It might be because you’re stuck in a storm, real or metaphorical. And when we’re in these situations how often do we not only cry out for help, but attempt to strike some bargain with the Almighty?

We promise to study harder, to eat better, to be more friendly, or generous or the like, if only we’ll be spared.

How often though, after the moment has passed do we follow through on those promises?

It’s easy isn’t it to make some token gesture, to weasel out of our commitment or to just simply forget.

Now, I should make it clear that I think that the best thing we can do when we’re in trouble is to ask God for help, but I don’t think he’s only interested if we strike a bargain with him.

The Bible tells us that God is generous and gracious, and that just like a loving Father he longs to help us, his children, out.

That notwithstanding, our modern world has been shaped by one man who made such a deal with God and who did honour his commitment.

Last Tuesday, October 31, was monumental not because it was Halloween, but because it happened to mark the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Thesis to the church doors in Wittenberg.

This was an event that not only changed the shape of the church but has had a long and lasting impact on the whole of Western society.

The resulting Reformation not only changed the way we think about God and the church, but it transformed art, music, architecture, science and politics.

It gave birth to much of what we take for granted in education, communication, democracy, capitalism and even secularism.

What connection does all this have with making promises to God?

Long before he nailed his colours to the wall, Luther found himself caught in a terrible storm while on his way back to university.

In desperation he cried out to God, vowing that if God would spare him, he would become a monk.

Luther survived the storm, and unlike many of us he followed through on this vow.

While there’s much about Luther’s legacy that we should remember and admire, in this at least we don’t have to follow his example.

Next time you find yourself in trouble I do hope that you try praying.

Calling out to God is the best thing that we can do, if we’re in trouble or not.

Just don’t feel like you need to make any bargains to secure his blessings.

George Hemmings, Christ Church Anglican

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