Help, I need somebody!

In 1965 John Lennon wrote the song “Help!” It went to number one in the charts in both the UK and USA. In an interview some years later, John spoke of the stress he experienced because of his sudden rise to success, “The whole Beatles thing was just beyond comprehension. I was fat and depressed and was subconsciously crying out for help.”

Many people can identify with the words of the song; “Help, I need somebody. Help, not just anybody. Help, you know, I need someone. Help! When I was younger, so much younger than today, I never needed anybody’s help in any way. But now these days are gone, I’m not so self- assured and now I find I’ve changed my mind, I’ve opened up the doors. And now my life has changed in, oh, so many ways. My independence seems to vanish in the haze, but every now and then I feel so insecure, I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before. Help me if you can, I’m feeling down, and I do appreciate you being ’round. Help me get my feet back on the ground. Won’t you, please, please help me?”

Many of us go through experiences which shake our self-confidence and make us feel insecure. Even when we are surrounded by people we become conscious that we need help from someone, and not just anybody. At such times a cry of “Help!” comes from our hearts. We need to know, as we have never needed before, that there is someone there.

The Bible declares that there is someone there and he is willing to help us. The opening words of the Bible are, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The universe and our lives have meaning and purpose because God is there. We are not alone. Augustine, an early Christian leader, wrote, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.”

One day Jesus saw a widow following the coffin of her only son. A large crowd of people was with her. The heart of Jesus went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” Then he went up and touched the coffin and said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. The people were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.”

I am with you always

Many people in the UK today live on their own. In 2016, there were 7.7 million one person households; 54% of whom were women and 46 % were men. Between 1996 and 2016 the number of one person households increased by 15% for those aged over 65 and by 51% for those aged 45-64. In contrast, during that period the number of one person households fell by 12% amongst those aged 25-44. Some younger people are living with their parents longer than in previous generations and others are sharing accommodation with friends. In wealthy societies increasing numbers of people are choosing to live alone. In Scandinavia, for example, nearly 50% of the adult population live alone.

Not everyone who lives on their own is lonely, but many are. Those who have experienced the pain of marriage breakdown and those who have been bereaved feel it acutely. For them, living alone, eating alone and returning to an empty house at the end of each day is something they never really get used to. Communicating with “friends” through social media may help, but is not the same as human companionship and sharing the ups and downs of daily life with someone we love. It is good to have to consider someone else’s needs as well as our own. An elderly widow who lived next door to us told us that living on her own meant she could be tempted to be very selfish.

Jesus experienced profound loneliness when he died on the cross. On the night before he died he told his disciples, who had been his close companions over the past 3 years, “The time is coming – indeed it’s here now – when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.” Yet, the next day, as he suffered on the cross, he experienced total aloneness as he paid the price of our sins. Out of the darkness he cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” Later, as he prepared to die, he knew the Father’s presence again. His last words were, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands.”

One of the great promises Jesus made to his disciples, as he sent them out into a hostile world to proclaim the good news of the Gospel, was “I am with you always.” Knowing Jesus as Saviour and Lord means we are never alone because, through the Holy Spirit, he really is with us.

God’s love for widows and orphans

I have just returned from a visit to South Africa. It is a very beautiful country enjoying economic stability, which is rare in the continent of Africa. The people are very friendly and welcoming. I spent the first few days near Durban and visited a small project, run by Christians, which provides care for about 30 AIDS orphans. The children who live in the project have lost both their parents through HIV/AIDS.

It is estimated that there are 1.5 million such children in South Africa alone. Many orphan children are being looked after in the extended family, by grandparents. So many parents have died, however, that some families have found it impossible to cope and, so, projects have been established to look after the children. The social and economic cost of HIV/AIDS is very great. The orphans’ parents were the main wage earners and the grandparents struggle to find the money to bring up the children.

It was a privilege to meet the South African house parents, who are caring for these children, and the doctor and his wife, who established the project and raise the finance need to sustain it. The children have a good home and are going to school. They have experienced great sadness at a young age but are being given a good foundation for their future lives. They are growing up in a stable and loving environment.

God has a very special love for widows and orphans. He watches over and sustains the fatherless and the widow. Christians, who know Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, are also committed to living out their faith. The letter of James says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.”

The children living in the project are experiencing the love of God through those who care for them. They know that they are valued and that they are not on their own. They are being helped to cope with their sadness and are being equipped to face the future. Some of them have already understood God’s love for them in Jesus. They know that God is their heavenly Father and will always be with them. He will never forsake them or fail them. It is a wonderful thing to know such love and to know that our heavenly Father can bring us through the deepest sadness and give us hope for the future.