For most of my life, when I knelt in front of the crucifix to pray, my prayer went something like this: “Lord, help me.” Actually, it went something like this: “LORD, HELP ME!!! PLEASE!!!”
I always remember to say “please,” which seems only appropriate when you’re begging the Lord of the Universe for emergency assistance. And like most people, I’ve needed all kinds of emergency assistance for a variety of personal crises: children straying from the faith, family members suffering the ravages of cancer, friends afflicted with addiction, relationships torn apart, and worst of all, people despairing because their lives were in shambles, and they couldn’t see that the only possible solution was the only one they weren’t considering—Jesus.
Others were dealing with the death of a spouse, or tragically, the death of a child, the loss of a job, emotional abuse—a seemingly infinite number of reasons to look at Jesus on the cross and plead, “Lord, help us!”
Then, something happened. It’s not that the list of reasons to petition Jesus had gotten shorter. In fact, it had gotten longer. Look at the world, and you’ll recognize immediately there are countless reasons to pray harder than ever before.
However, the day came when I knelt before the Eucharist with my laundry list of petitions, and for a moment it seemed that Jesus was saying, “Help me.” What could the Son of God need from me?
My prayer eventually became “Lord, how may I help?” What a curious concept that the God who made Heaven and Earth should need the help of fallen, imperfect creatures. And yet if you look around you, you’ll realize the harvest is great and the laborers are few.
Be assured that Jesus needs our help, and it doesn’t require a PhD or special training or a flashy title, only a commitment to do his will in every moment and to turn your life over to him every morning.
The game plan is pretty simple. If you give him your day, he’ll do great things. He’ll also tell you moment by moment how you can help even if you don’t think you have the ability.
Your deficiencies won’t matter because his grace is all you’ll need. It will strengthen you when you’re afraid, and it will supplement your meager abilities. What he told St. Paul applies to all of us: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
When a friend comes to you because her husband died or her child has been diagnosed with cancer or she’s depressed about her family situation, ask Jesus what you should say before you open your mouth, and the Holy Spirit will guide you. Ask Jesus what to do in every situation, and he’ll lead you.
Sometimes, silent compassion is the answer. Less preaching and more listening is always a good rule to follow. Wonderful things occur when we offer to help Jesus. He can work miracles through us without our even knowing.
We live at a critical time when countless souls are being lost— souls that Jesus wants saved. We live at a time when there’s a lot of talk about justice and love but much more anger and hatred. It’s one thing to talk the talk, and another to walk the walk.
Never doubt that you can make a difference. It doesn’t have to be a new program, a major speech or a political rally. When small imperceptible acts are spiritually charged by Jesus, they have a vastly greater effect than highly publicized initiatives with a cast of thousands. Sometimes all we’re called to do is plant the seed and Jesus does the rest. We may never see the results of our actions until the next life.
A smile, a display of compassion, silent listening, laughter, prayer. These seem to be the smallest gestures but they’re the greatest gestures to Christ, who deserves all the glory. Never underestimate what you can do with Jesus beside you. And never doubt for a moment that he is calling you to serve day to day and moment to moment in situations that may seem commonplace and ordinary. Heed the call.
“Lord, how may I help you?” Say it every morning, and he will answer you.