The Help of God

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Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day. Acts 26:22

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble (Ps. 46:1). We should bless the Lord, "who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation" (Ps. 68:19). The apostle Paul found this to be true. His whole life and ministry is explained by this one sentence: "having therefore obtained help of God" he had continued to that day.

Now in one sense it is true that every man and woman obtains help from God, for in him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). Indeed, apart from the will of God, we cannot live or do anything (Jam. 4:15). And this help that Paul experienced surely is an aspect of this divine providence. But I don't think Paul is thinking of his experiencing this universal providence of God in upholding his creation in the way everyone else did (cf. Col. 1:17). He is clearly thinking of something which sets his life apart. In what sense, then, is the help obtained by Paul different from the way most people experience God's universal preserving providence?

It is different in at least two ways. First, it is different because it was acknowledged by Paul. In other words, he didn't take God's grace and help and strength and guidance and protection and blessing for granted. He saw all of his life as being under God's good sovereignty. This is not true of most people. I would say that most people don't even think of God until something bad happens and then God either gets the blame for it or it becomes a reason for them not to believe in God. But even religious folks can fall into the mindset that takes God's gifts for granted. Let us never be like that. The easiest way to get out of a despairing and bitter mindset is to see all of life as lived in the help of God.

Second, Paul's perspective was different because this help was sought by Paul. Paul was a man who realized that in himself he was nothing. He knew that anything eternally meaningful and good was the product of the grace of God in him and through him (1 Cor. 15:10). And he also knew that this grace is to be sought. No one was more deeply convinced of God's absolute sovereignty than Paul. And yet this did not turn him into a fatalist. Paul was a man of prayer. He knew that we are to ask and seek and knock at the door of heaven, expecting the door to open to those who knock (Mt. 7:7-11). It is both true that the help Paul received was received because it was ordained of God, and it is true that the help Paul received he received because he sought it of God. The same is true of us.

Let us be people who see God's help and seek God's help in great things and small, in good days and bad. As William Carey put it, "Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God."

By: Jeremiah Bass