God Helps Us

Bible Book: Joshua 
Subject: Care of God; Comfort of God; Help of God; Encouragement

Joshua 1:9

An announcement came over the plane's intercom: "Ladies and gentlemen, our number 4 engine has been shut off because of mechanical trouble. Don't worry, however, we can finish the flight with 3 engines and besides you'll be reassured to know that we have four preachers on board." One nervous old lady called the flight attendant and said, "Dearie, would you please tell the captain that I'd much rather have four engines and three preachers."

Well most of us do prefer something substantial when trouble comes. But the Lord told Joshua, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9).

God didn't tell Joshua that he'd never meet an enemy or have a problem. Instead, God said "I'll be with you." That's very important because uncertainty and insecurity inhibit growth. So many people are fickle and so much in life is unpredictable, we need something solid and reliable to count on. The Psalmist said, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

All of these Scriptures express a nice sentiment, but what do they really mean on a practical level? Theoretical messages are not very helpful. Most of us are like the little child who, when assured that God was with her in a dark room, answered, "Yeah, maybe so! But I really need someone with skin on."

When disasters strike and problems multiply, we need specific reassurance and concrete evidence. We need hope.

A millionaire changed the lives of a sixth-grade class in East Harlem. He'd been asked to speak, but he didn't really know what he could say that would inspire these minority students, most of whom would drop out of school. Scrapping his notes, he spoke from his heart. "Stay in school," he admonished, "and I'll help pay the college tuition for every one of you."

Now, he didn't wave a magic wand, or dole out any money immediately, but at that moment, the lives of those students changed. Nearly 90 percent of that class went on to graduate from high school. Later a student said, "Once I had a promise of support, I had something to look forward to, something to work for. It was a wonderful feeling."

All of us need such a promise. How then does God help us?

I. God Strengthens Us

Someone said, "Don't pray for lighter loads. Pray for stronger shoulders." The Psalmist says, "The God of Israel gives power and strength to his people" (Psa. 68:35).

One morning, a young college student had a problem getting his car started. Then he hooked up the jumper cables to his dad's station wagon, and in a couple of minutes, his car came to life. Power from the stronger battery had been transferred to his weaker one, as a result of the "boost" his car began regenerating its own energy. All of us need a power boost occasionally. In Isaiah the Lord said, "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you . . ." (Isa. 41:10).

Now, this doesn't mean that God solves our problems or does our jobs. He helps! There is a difference. When David faced Goliath, he didn't expect God to send a lightning bolt. He used his own skill and courage, yet he trusted in God's help. He said, "The Lord . . . will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine . . ." (1 Samuel 17:37)

When Nehemiah led the Hebrews in rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, they worked hard for 52 days, yet the people, "realized that this work had been done with the help of our God" (Nehemiah 6:16).

Once a woman took her child to a concert. The curtain went up a few minutes before the famous pianist, Paderewski, came on stage. When the mother turned around to speak to an acquaintance, her little boy wriggled out of his seat, ran up the steps, sat down at the grand piano, and began to play "Chopsticks" with all his might. Both the audience and his mother was appalled. Then there was a gasp as Paderewski himself appeared. But, instead of being angry the maestro smiled, sat down on the piano bench with the little boy, whispered to him to continue and then, putting both arms around the child, began to improvise a soft accompaniment to the childish music. He kept it up until the audience burst into applause.

That's how God helps us. He doesn't do it for us, and He doesn't just let us stumble on alone. Instead, He enhances and augments our own efforts.

God strengthens us!

II. God Comforts Us

Paul said, "Praise be to God . . . the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God" (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

In troubled times, just the presence of a caring person is a great help. Tennyson expressed it this way:

Speak to Him, thou, for He hears, and Spirit with Spirit shall meet- Closer is He than breathing, and Nearer than hands and feet.

A woman said, "One night when I was nine, I got angry with my family and ran away from home. I hid in an abandoned field. As I sat there on the hard ground gazing up at the stars, I was terribly uncomfortable, but too proud to go back. In fact, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself when, suddenly, I heard footsteps. I saw a shadowy figure walking toward me. Then, I felt a big hand touch my shoulder. It was my father. He had found me in the dark. Without a word, I took his hand and we walked home. He had come for me and I was glad."

When we feel alone, and alienated, we need to just be still and wait for God's presence. He will find us, and we will be glad.

All of us need a personal touch. One woman said, "When my mail came, there were bills, a sweepstake's offer and a fund-raiser notice. But one letter caught my eyes. It's was a message from home, addressed to me by name and in a familiar handwriting. It told me that I am loved."

The world is full of impersonal messages, but people crave "a letter from home," addressed to them by name, and in a familiar handwriting. They need to know that they are loved. John said, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him" (1 John 4:9).

That's how God comforts us!

III. God Encourages Us

The Psalmist said, "You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them and you listen to their cry" (Psalm 10:17).

Encouragement is essential. Paul said, " May . . . God . . . encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word" (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).

A successful minister said, "After my first year of graduate school, I was ready to quit. When my home pastor came to our school for a meeting, I planned to tell him. But before I could say anything, my pastor said, "Kenneth, your major professor tells me that you did great work in his class." I gulped and responded, "He did?" "Yes," he said. "He also told me that he may ask you to grade for him next semester." While I was trying to absorb that amazing news, my pastor continued, "He's hoping you will stay for doctoral work." I was so astonished that I never mentioned dropping out. Instead, I spent the next five years studying as I had never studied before; did my doctoral work and taught several years on the faculty. I've thought about how different my life would have been if, on that morning when I had been ready to quit, my pastor had not repeated those powerful words of encouragement."

A perceptive poet wrote:

"I have no voice for singing,

I cannot make a speech,

I have no gift for music,

I know I cannot teach.

I am no good at leading,

I cannot organize,

And anything I've written

Would never win a prize.

It seems my only talent,

Is neither big nor rare,

To listen and encourage

And fill a vacant chair.

But all the gifted people

Could not so brightly shine,

Were it not for those of us

With talents such as mine."

 All of us need an occasional compliment or pat on the back. Paul's faith gave him confidence. "I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Phil. 4:13).

God encourages us!


At the end of his life, Joshua emphasized that God had kept his promises. He said, "Not one of all the good promises the Lord Your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled . . . ." (Joshua 23:14).

Sometimes, realizing that there is a person who truly cares about us is all we need to help us succeed. An English teacher told a moving story. She said, " The other instructors and I thought that this particular student wanted to fail. We knew he was bright, but he refused to even try. No one could reach him-not with praise, not with threats, not with well-meaning offers of assistance. One day after class I told him, 'You leave me no choice. I'm going to have to give you a failing grade. Doesn't that matter to you?'

'Not really,' he drawled, leaning back in his chair with a cynical smile.

When I indicated that he could go, he swaggered out of the room with a sarcastic expression.

'Oh, Lord,' I said out loud. 'What did this to him?' I put my head down on my desk and unexpectedly found myself in tears.

I don't know how long I had been crying when I felt a hand touch me. I looked up. The failing scholar had returned. 'I didn't know that . . . that anyone cared that much,' he said. The mocking smile was gone. 'And Ma'am, if I try, will you help me?'

'Of course, but you'll have to work very hard,' I replied. 'Both of us will.'

'Then, let's get started,' he said. 'Right now!'

He did work hard, and he did do well in all of his classes. In fact, he became one of our best students. A little concern and a little help worked miracles."

God does that for us. He strengthens us by inspiring new thoughts. He comforts us by assuring us of His unfailing presence and undying love. He encourages us by raising our self-esteem, increasing our confidence and giving us hope.