God Helps Those Who Realize They Can't Help Themselves

A man was taking a trip on an old wooden sailing ship. He was out on the deck one day and saw one of the crew members climbing the ropes, going up to the crow’s nest. When the fellow was about half-way up, the ship pitched to one side and he was thrown overboard. As the sailor hit the water, he began to scream for help and flail his arms wildly, struggling to stay afloat. The traveler watched as another sailor walked over to the rail of the ship, and calmly observed the man in the water. After a short time, the man in the water tired, and began to sink. At that point, the sailor standing by the rail immediately jumped overboard and rescued the drowning victim. After both men were safely on board, the traveler went over to the rescuer and asked, “why did you wait so long to jump in the water and rescue this man?”

He calmly replied, "I have found that as long as a man is struggling in the water, there is a greater chance that he will get us both killed if I jump in and try to save him too quickly. I have learned that it is better to let them struggle awhile, and when they come to the end of their own strength, I can then jump in the water and rescue them.”

Friends, the important spiritual parallel in this story is this: We only really experience God’s grace and salvation when we come to the end of our own strength. Only when we stop trying to “save ourselves” will we be rescued by God. Though the old saying is that “God helps those who help themselves,” the truth is that God promises to help those who realize they cannot help themselves.

The Bible tells us that we experience God’s salvation when we place our trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “By grace are you saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one can boast.” The primary reason why people do not place their faith or trust in the Lord Jesus is because they don’t think they need to do so. Many folks believe they are just fine the way they are, that they can handle whatever problems life may bring. They are convinced that they really do not need any help from God. When life comes to an end, these individuals assume they will be congratulated on their efforts to “live a good life” and be welcomed into heaven. Yet, there will be a very rude awakening when these people stand before the Lord. Because they did not think they needed God’s help, they will not receive it at the time they most need it. Rather than being welcomed into God’s kingdom, as those who are trusting in Jesus will be, those trusting in themselves will be excluded.

Friend, don’t be so foolish to think that you can merit or earn God’s favor. God will rescue us when we admit we cannot rescue ourselves.
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Dan Erickson