In a devotion I was reading recently I read a quote that really struck me. It said, “Many of us pray and pray hard but very few of us actually submit”. There are many things that I pray about on a daily basis. Currently, there are a few things that I am praying about diligently. They are things that are really important to me. As a matter of fact, when I read that quote, one of those things immediately came to my mind. I began to ask myself if I was really submitting to God about that issue. Did I want help or just relief?
I have been pondering this question now for a few days. There is a significant difference between the two. I know for myself that I am often looking for relief but I am not very open to the help. As a pastor, I encounter people on a regular basis who have that same struggle. I would even say that the majority of people are looking for relief and not help. Debt relief. Marriage relief. Pain relief. Work relief. Most often we are not looking for help. You may be asking, ”What is the difference?”. This is my summary of the difference between help and relief.
Very few people are interested in changing their actions. What they really want is the removal of the consequences of their actions. When we get relief, we are usually not solving a problem but only temporarily removing the symptoms of the problem. The debt consolidation loan gives us temporary relief but when our actions do not change we end up in a worse position than where we were before. We get pain relief without discovering what is actually causing the pain, or if we know, we choose not to make the changes to ease the pain permanently. Sometimes pain relief can mask something that is causing us great harm. Even the method of relief can be harmful to us. I prefer not to take a lot of medicine but if I get a headache I have no problem taking an Excedrin. But these pain relievers over time can do our body harm and cause other problems. There are certain things that I know to do to help avoid headaches, but sometimes I choose the relief over the help. Even when we have relief at work unless we quit we still have to go back. Our relief is temporary. There may be things that you can do on your job that requires help instead of relief and you may enjoy it more.
The most difficult part of getting help is coming to the realization that we do not have all of the answers and we cannot do it alone. Getting help requires us to acknowledge that someone may have a better perspective, idea or that we are just not superhuman. The other thing about help is that sometimes the results are not immediate. We can take a pill and get almost immediate relief. Sometimes with help, we do not see any improvement immediately. A few years back I went to the chiropractor for an issue with my back and it took several visits before I saw any improvement at all. Most help requires a certain amount of discipline. If we are getting financial advice, it requires us to be disciplined to follow a plan to get the results that we want. If we are getting marriage counseling, we have to put into practice the things that we are seeing and understanding. Help allows other people and information into our lives to make it better over a long period of time.
We may not get the immediate relief we desire when we seek help, but the long term health of just about anything is better when we accept the help we need and stop masking the symptoms with relief. Sometimes relief might be necessary and even acceptable, but help is what most of us need. Be willing to accept it.