Do you help your friends out when they are in a pinch? Are you willing to float them a loan when they need it? (Here, I mean something like a few dollars for lunch, not necessarily a running line of credit or financing their new car.) Would you help them move?
What if a friend or family member really needed something to achieve an important goal in life? Would you loan them a suit or dress for an interview? Would you drive them to school or to work if their car was in the shop? (I realize that much of the world has the option to take public transportation, but in the United States, that isn’t always available outside of larger cities.)
Exodus 17:8-16 gives us a great story of two guys helping out their friend (and the rest of their nation). Here’s a couple of verses that summarize their good deed:
As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
Exodus 17:11-12 NIV
For most people, holding our hands up is one of those things that isn’t difficult at first, but if we hold our arms up (or out) for a while, discomfort sets in, and gives way to pain and fatigue as time goes on.
Serving Jesus can feel the same way: At first, new believers are excited and enthusiastic about their faith, as they remember what they were saved from, and can’t wait to tell others about the change that Jesus made in their lives. After a while, though, the trials of life sometimes start to take their toll on this zeal and energy. Some of the friends who we spent time with before we met Jesus may resist the good news, and might even be downright mean about it. Other followers of Jesus fall short – as we all do – in setting a good example. Temptations redouble their efforts to pull us back into the mire.
Mercifully, this is not always the case, and some people continue follow Jesus passionately without seeming to slow down. These persistent followers celebrate when new souls are rescued from sin, and they patiently keep serving through the difficult times.
For those of us who observe these struggles in others, though, we have an opportunity to help out. When our friends and family seem to be losing their battles – whether against evil, sickness, trials, or opposition – we can be like Aaron and Hur, and step up to help them.
Our friends probably don’t currently need us to hold their hands up so that a nation can win a battle, though. Instead, what might this look like in the battles that our friends face today?
For one thing, I think that many tired and suffering people need a place to sit down.
This might be a physical need, where someone needs a glass of water or something to eat while they are working. It might mean purchasing new shoes for someone who stands all day but cannot afford comfortable footwear. It might just mean taking care of a project at work, so that a colleague can go home and rest.
Once the distraction of these issues (those that can be solved with a little help from us) is taken away, these people can then focus on other responsibilities. Here, we’re talking about people like Moses, who want to keep doing what they are called by God to do, but just need some help to be able to get it done. Our support may be all that they need in order to do great things for God.
This “place to sit down” might also be a social need. For trials that are emotional or mental, those around us may need a safe place to talk. A listening ear or an arm around their shoulders may give them the strength to continue to serve others. (For instance, caregivers have unique challenges like this, and are blessed when others notice and care for them, too.)
Once we have addressed the pain and weariness that eat away at the stamina of these fellow souls, how else can we help them out? Like Aaron and Hur, we may need to step up and carry some weight. We might need to join someone in an act of service, whether that is serving food, hauling wheelbarrows of concrete, or caring for a sick person. In other cases, we need to take something off of their chore list, so that they have fewer distractions and drains on their energy.
In addition, fellow believers may need encouragement from us. (I imagine Aaron, Hur, and Moses continuing to tell each other about the importance of what they were doing, and reminding each other that they could succeed together.) For those who are carrying a spiritually heavy burden, where temptation is a serious risk, the gift of accountability may be the support that they need. And, prayer on everyone’s behalf calls upon the strength of God Almighty to help them.
Just like holding our hands up for a long time is wearying, helping someone else do so can take its toll, as well. I envision Aaron and Hur growing tired, too, after helping Moses for a while. Within the body of Christ, helping each other out shouldn’t be a single person’s job. Everyone should share in this work, providing both the afflicted and their supporters the help that they need to get through.
Eventually, the battle will be won, and we can rest. I expect that Moses’ arms felt like jelly for a few days afterwards, and that Aaron and Hur were similarly sore for a while. However, the Israelites won the battle, and the weariness was accompanied by victory.
While we are still in the battle, though, who around us needs some help getting through, and who do we need to humbly ask for help?
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.