James 1:27 tells us, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” The true religion of caring for those who are vulnerable is a beautiful thing. But I have also had the opportunity to learn the beauty of receiving care in my own times of vulnerability.
Within the body of Christ, there are seasons of life in which we are strong, rich and able. In those times, we honor the Lord by caring for the lowly and afflicted. We honor God by using the resources He has given us to advance His purpose. And we do so generously and joyfully.
But there are other seasons of life in which we are lowly, needy and afflicted. During such times, the Lord uses our lowliness to demonstrate His provision through the loving community of the church.
How Jesus Instructs Us in Neediness
Christ sets a compelling example for us in Philippians 2:5-10. This familiar passage speaks of the deep humbling Christ embraced when He took on human flesh. In the incarnation, we see God the Father send God the Son, the King of Kings, who humbled Himself and took on the helpless and needy nature of a baby. Jesus willingly took on the role of the needy in a profound way. At His birth, He knew what it was to be in need. As is the case with all babies, He was dependent on the care and provision of His parents. As is the case with all people, He demonstrated need and dependence on others’ provision, even into adulthood. We see Him ask a Samaritan woman for a drink of water because He is tired, thirsty and lacking a bucket to draw water. We see Him leave the work of sailing up to the disciples while He takes a much needed nap in the boat. And we see Him in Gethsemane, needing the prayer and fellowship of those closest to Him in his time of trial, asking them to watch and pray.
Jesus knows our need. He knows our need because, in His deity, He created us to be dependent and needy. He knows our need because, in His humanity, He experienced what it is like to be needy, lowly and dependent.
Being Honest About Our Need
When we are lowly, needy and afflicted, the Christ-honoring response is not to hide our need or to be ashamed of it. We don’t have to pretend like we’re strong enough to make it on our own. Rather, we ought to openly acknowledge our lowly position, our affliction and our need. We should humbly ask both the Lord God and Christ’s bride, the Church, for the help we need. And we should proclaim God’s faithfulness when He meets those needs.
God is glorified in meeting the needs of His creation. He loves and cares for His children. He commands us to seek His hand for provision, and He is glorified when the church meets the needs of its members. Because of this, we can be honest about our need and cast ourselves on His provision.
He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.
He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens that cry.
His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.