When You Need a Helping Hand

When You Need a Helping Hand

December 16, 2016

“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.” Luke 1:39-40 (NIV)

Devotion Graphic

God is the world’s greatest matchmaker. I’m not talking about the kind of romantic matches made online, but rather about connections made between women in need and those who can help.

As I grew older in years and in my faith, God consistently placed women in my path who modeled all kinds of things I needed to know. My mom taught me about keeping a home that’s peaceful and full of love. In my teen years, a young woman named Layne showed me what it looked like to cultivate a pure heart.

Later, Deborah lived out being a loving wife even though she never knew I was watching. Macon taught me about mothering small children, and Mona was an example of how to use my words wisely.

Each woman had something to share with me that I needed in order to grow.

Christmas is approaching, and in Luke 1, one of our familiar Christmas passages, God gives us a beautiful picture of what it looks like when He gives the gift of friendship to help us in difficult situations. He joins together a young woman, Mary, with an older woman, Elizabeth, and encourages both of them in the linking. If we’ll zoom in a little, there are some important lessons for us.

1. Mary sought out a woman to help her.

When I slowed my reading of today’s key verses, they left me with lots of questions. Why did Mary need to pack up and leave home to go see Elizabeth? Where was her mother? Her friends?

No matter the answers, one fact is clear. Mary needed a woman with whom she could connect. In fact, Scripture tells us she hurried there!

We live in a lonely culture where 60% of women say they’re lonely and 20% say they’re lonely all the time. Mary gives us an example to follow when we fall into the loneliness pit. She didn’t sit at home and wish someone were there. She didn’t “vague-book” something on social media to manipulate someone to reach out. She packed up and went to spend face-to-face time with Elizabeth.

Mary was blessed with a close connection because of her initiation.

2. Elizabeth chose to connect, rather than to compete.

When we think through the circumstances, Elizabeth could have gotten her feelings hurt. After all, Mary made an unannounced visit
and she was carrying the Messiah, the hope of the whole world, in her womb.

Because she was already married and her husband was a priest, Elizabeth held a superior social ranking. Elizabeth could have compared herself to Mary and felt resentment. She could have thought, “Who is she to be carrying the Messiah instead of me?” Instead, she instantly poured out blessing and affirmation to her cousin Mary, a young, pregnant girl trembling with the implications of her amazing assignment.

3. Joy was the result of their connection.

The remaining description of Mary and Elizabeth’s interaction in Luke 1 is a more beautiful scene than I can even imagine. It’s filled with loud declarations of blessing, Spirit-filled babies leaping with joy, and a song so exquisite that it’s nicknamed “The Magnificat.”

The outcome of these women’s connection was great joy. Not only were they happy in the moment, but they were forever enriched by the match that God had made between the two of them. God calls us to connect so we can mature. Mary was supported, and Elizabeth had a chance to share her maturity and support. That same joy can be in store for you and me!

Lord, I praise You that I was made for connection. Help me reach out for help when I need it and to offer it to others when I’m able. Please make me more like You as I do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Matthew 6:1, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Following in their footsteps, you too can prepare for the Savior to enter your heart, your mind and your life in a vibrant, new way. Bestselling author Liz Curtis Higgs explores the biblical stories of Elizabeth, Mary and Anna, unwrapping each verse with tender care and introducing you afresh to The Women of Christmas.

What if God gave you the chance to forget your past and start over? Begin building a strong, faith-filled future based on God’s vision for your life instead of your own with our upcoming First 5 study of Joshua and Judges. Get the Experience Guide today.

CONNECT:
Visit Amy Carroll’s blog today for a free download of ways to reach out to others. You can also enter to win a special giveaway.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Read all of Luke Chapter 1 slowly, two times. What new truths do you find?

What needs do you have in your life right now that you could use some help with from another woman? How could you connect with the woman who has what you need?

How could you help meet the needs of another woman in your life?

© 2016 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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Comments

  1. Yes agree

  2. Your devotions brought to mind how we can seek to encourage others instead of waiting for others to encourage us. Thankfully, I can cast my cares on Jesus.

  3. I’ve been struggling with connecting. I have been spiritually abused by people who I thought were believers in the Lord and hurt by a lot of other people in my life. I have seen abuse after abuse and have been scared to get close with others. This devotion is uplifting! I have been afraid to take that step out and have been thinking life is sometimes better isolated, but it really isn’t. This is encouraging for me to be prayerful about connecting with people again

    • Please know that God has not abandoned you. As Christians we are meant to be in relationships with others. It is hard to step out of our comfort zone to take that first step for fear of being judged or rejected. Know that your experiences and struggles will allow you to comfort someone else in need of a friend. Allow God to work through you and rely on Him to help reconnect with fellow Christians.

  4. Love this! I always say, “girls need girl friends!” My own momma taught me too “to have friends,you need to be a friend.” And what I’ve been teaching my daughter is “people remember when you show up!” When we truly “love one another” as Christ asks to do it brings great joy not only to those who need us but also to our own hearts!

  5. I truly need someone like Elizabeth in my life. Someone who cares just to understand and listen to my stuff from my life and so I can learn to leave it behind and to help me build up myself spiritually. And know that I would be there for them as well. I’m truly a loyal person. But it seems very hard these days to infiltrate groups of women in any evangelical church my age. But maybe living in a smaller community doesn’t help either. It feels like they don’t need a new person in there group or you just don’t meet there religious requirements, which just isn’t fair. We are all sinners and have baggage some more than others. Isn’t that’s why you try to seek a friendship with someone who has the same beliefs and look for encouragement? So you can be a better mom, wife or just to refuel? Or do people live in religious bubbles! I hope I don’t. And so you can be an encouragement to others too. But maybe it’s just me as I don’t trust people after being hurt all my life. After years of mental abuse and growing up in what was supposed to be a Christian home, which I now know that it wasn’t, I suffer from PTSD from this…life isn’t easy! I’m not looking for sympathy or comments. I’m just telling how I feel and see it from my perspective. If anything just say a prayer for me….. because at this point I feel very hopeless and isolated. And I know that I’m pushing God further away too. I just don’t understand what I’m supposed to do. Just looking for some peace and prayers.

    • I’m praying for you Jules. In life people frequently let us down and hurt us, but The Lord will always love us and we can always trust Him.

    • Suzie Figueiredo says:

      Praying that God restores you emotionally and that he gives you genuine friendships.

    • Diane Reese says:

      Jules. I understand where you are coming from. Have been prayerfully asking God for a female mentor. Then asking him to help me climb out of my comfort zone and help others. That isn’t easy.
      One thing that helps me is having the eyes wide open understanding that no one is perfect, we are all sinners and not one person on this earth will ever measure up to Jesus. We need to keep our eyes on him and understand that everyone else is just as sin marred and screwed up as we are.
      Praying for a mentor for both of us…..then someone we can help.

    • Dear Jules,
      I read your story and thought, “Oh my goodness someone just like me!” I grew up in an abusive “Christian” home and have been tossed around by many others through my journey. I didn’t trust anyone in the church, couldn’t read the Bible for a few years, and still struggle sitting down to listen to a pastor preach. It’s been very ugly at times but something beautiful happened too. God let me be me. He let me be angry at everything that happened. He didn’t leave me because I couldn’t read his Word. He helped me see all the toxic people in my life and gave me strength to walk away from them making room for people who would begin to breathe fresh air back into my heart. He has slowly shown me who He really is; not the tyrannical perfectionist God I thought He was and I sought so hard to please. Slowly, He is bringing friends back into my life. I wonder if He wanted me to know who He was and who I was in Him before I got to know others? I really think He will give you room to be who you are and to feel everything you need to feel and when your ready He’ll bring amazing people back into your life. My prayers and hugs are with you ♡ You’re not alone ♡♡♡♡♡♡

    • Will be praying for you. And I agree that women (and some men too) in churches are not usually on the lookout for the newcomer. It’s so hard to penetrate a clique of women who have all known each other for who knows how long. At my old church, I tried really hard to reach out to people only to get barely acknowledged. It seems that we could all use a lesson on loving the unlovable and being a good Samaritan. But always provides and God opens doors. Don’t give up on Him!

      • Evelyn Cordero says:

        Perhaps that sense of belonging can be found in other places. Visiting a Veterans home or a Children’s home and helping them or a women shelterThey always welcome people and are grateful.

    • I will be praying for you, Jules. Just know that you are NOT alone! Our Savior is with you, guiding you along this path. There are periods of wait throughout our lives when it seems like God is not working, but have confidence that our God is ALWAYS working, ordaining events to lead you to prosperity right this very instant. God will use every hurt you have gone through. He will make rivers out of wasteland (Isaiah 43:19). You are dearly loved!

    • Dear Jules, I can relate to some of what you’re saying. I too feel isolated. I live in a small community & am a member of a small church. I struggle to find someone to really connect with on a personal level. My children are all grown & I have been divorced for 11 years. I also work pretty much alone & am 56 years old. So by the time I’m done working at the end of the day, I’m very tired! I have a cleaning business so my work is very physical. And I tell you all that only to show you that I am quite isolated. But God showed me Proverbs 31 ministries Online Bible studies last winter & then the First 5 App here at Proverbs 31 ministries last spring. So I believe He is using this isolated period in my life to draw me deeper into Himself! I certainly still struggle but I’m choosing to trust that this is “training time ” for me in HIM!! As I have been reading God’s Word on a much more regular basis through the 1st 5 App, I feel this “knowing ” in my spirit that I am growing! I’m going to choose to keep using these “tools” He has given me throughout this past year… I can’t tell you how much I have grown by using this ministry & I plan to stay with this ministery & the wonderful things that they provide here to help me grow spiritually!

      • Thanks ladies for all of your comments! And thanks Jessica I really love what you said! I’m struggling with some of what Jules is going through also!

  6. Shirley Stallworth says:

    Elizabeth chose to connect, rather than to compete.

    Most of my life I have uttered those words to women that I tried to be friends with. ” I do not want to compete with you — I just want to be friends and the friendships never lasted. As I have matured in Christ I have come to the revelation that God had not chosen these people for me. Every friend that he has connected me with we still are in relationship and still growing in the fellowship of God learning and helping one another

  7. I long to have a circle of close woman friends to pray for and to pray with, to grow and glow together for Jesus. A woman’s Bible study. A close sister bond, but the churches I’ve been in the woman have already chose their friends and you can’t get in their little click. It’s really sad. If you don’t dress right ,have the right income, talk and look like them it’s a no go. So I can’t help but feel so alone, empty wondering what in the world is wrong with me. I stay home and don’t bother trying. Years of putting myself out there with rejection after rejection cause I just quite never measured up has really hurt me and my walk with the Lord.?

    • Amy Carroll says:

      Myrna, I just sat at my desk and prayed for you. My heart is with you! Though others may reject us, the Lord never does. I’m praying for the healing presence of Emmanuel, God with us, to pour over you in this season.You are loved.

    • cathleen winter-rafalko says:

      Myrna, I’ve also paused life for a few minutes to pray for you sister♡ may our gracious merciful sovereign God enable you to connect with your female tribe soon. I live in nj, I reach out now to your heart and hug you friend and sister♡♡♡ xox I too have felt the sting of rejection from sisters in christ. Please lord forgive them, they don’t know what they have done♡♡

  8. How blessed I feel this morning for the dear friends God has placed in my life. I hope and pray that I have been as good a friend to them, as they have been to me.

  9. Catherine Hayes says:

    God DID give me a chance to be forgiven for my past, but not to forget it, lest I repeat it. Through the gift of a 12 step program He led me on a journey of recovery that taught me a new way of life with Him at the center.

    The beauty is that, as long as I keep my eyes on Him as the ultimate prize, my life continues to be blessed. Furthermore, I can start over any time I choose to……not because I deserve His mercy and grace (after all, I am a sinner!), but only because He loves me so much He bestows His gifts upon me in spite of my failings. Thank God for God: He is good all ways; always!

  10. Why this web site don’t have other languages support?

  11. What a beautiful devotional. I never looked at the story of Mary and Elizabeth that way but my eyes are now opened to the many women who were put in my path as I matured in age and faith. Like Mary I ran to an older woman who guided me in my young life as a mother. Now I realize God put her in my path. I am so blessed by the friendships of women who guided me and I hope I was able to guide others by their example. ❤

  12. This is a wonderful devotion, something I really needed right now. As much as it would be nice to have that other girl friend to “hurry” to when in need, I need to look at the opportunities of when other women are “hurrying” to me in their time of need and cultivating that time with them. Far too often I’m searching for this type of relationship with my own husband and am constantly frustrated and hurt that he doesn’t truly understand my needs. This devotion has helped me to remember women are far more powerful (and needed) in being there for other women and young girls. Sometimes when helping others in need I find my problems or situations become less of a problem and often times are resolved in helping others. Thank you for this devotion today!

  13. Natalie Johnson says:

    So in my Bible study class we have been praying for appointments and out of nowhere my ex’s new girlfriend, the one he cheated on me with, messaged me yesterday on Facebook. I’m really scared to answer her because I don’t know what she wants but I’m afraid not to because maybe she’s seeing someone of the abusive red flags I tried to warn her about and msybe she needs to talk to someone who has experienced that with him. I just need prayers for guidance and wisdom to know what to do.

    • Natalie-

      Reading your comment left this verse in my heart “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 3:16

      Have courage and follow God, whatever you choose to do in this situation. My prayers are with you!

  14. I need an “Elizabeth”. I’m in my 15th year of teaching, but struggling with relationships with my some of student’s parents. They are gossiping about me, making fun of me, behind my back. I only just found out. I slept horribly last night and really don’t want to go in to work to face these adults. I’m going in for the kids. I love their kids. And this is at a Christian School.
    Prayers appreciated.

    • I’m no Elizabeth but when I read your problem. My first thought was pray for them ask the Lord if you should set up a meeting with each parent individually and express to them how you feel and that they are setting a bad example for their children. I feel that is why we have so much bulling in our schools today the child learns from the parent. Love and peace to you

    • Amy Carroll says:

      Rebecca, I had to reply because a mentor helped me with a similar situation years ago.

      When I was women’s ministry director at my church, I started hearing that there was a group of women complaining, grumbling, and gossiping about the way I was leading. I was devastated.

      I went to my mentor, Mona (who I mentioned in the devotion today!), and she advised me to call the women one by one and talk to them. She advised me on how to start the conversation.

      I was scared to death, but one by one I called them and said, “I’m hearing that you’re feeling left out of our women’s ministry and have some concerns. I’d love to hear about them and see if I could help.” So wise! Not only was I able to have positive conversations with each of these women, addressing some of their legitimate concerns, but it was a sweet way to put everyone on notice that I KNEW and wasn’t going to ignore it. I’m so thankful for the way Jesus was at work in those relationships and also in the way He used my mentor to help me.

  15. Too often I’m frustrated that others don’t come to me and interact with me. I need to focus more on reaching out to others instead. I often feel lonely and was surprised to see the estimate of how many others in our culture are lonely too. I need to seek them out and connect. Also love the idea of affirming more people rather than comparing myself to them

    • Amy Carroll says:

      Oh, Mary. It’s so sweet to hear how God used the devotion to give you some direction. Thank you for sharing! I love your humble and willing heart.

      • Amy – I appreciate and respect that you read and respond to posts. It gives the message that you care. I always appreciate your messages. They are some of my favorites (Lucy…we have a problem). God bless!

  16. Rhonda Gardner says:

    This is one of many parts of scripture that I read over and over and over I must admit I’ve never read it quite like this thank you for sharing your perspective it gives me a new way to look at it and I’m excited to go back and read it again and look at it from a new view mwny of you at Proverbs 31 are women that I connect with in many ways and you all help me in some way or another in each devotional I read daily thank you and God bless.

  17. The new truths that I found are reminders of encouragement to me. When the angel visited Zechariah in verse 11 and told him how his wife would have a son, Zechariah asked how he would be sure this could happen. (verse 18) The angel made him silenced because he chose not to believe. Then later on in the story an angel visits Mary and tells her that she will conceive the very Son of God. She chose to respond in acceptance saying “may everything you’ve said about me come true.” (verse 38) The Lord knows that we are human and that we’re flawed, but how we chose to walk in faith is our choose. I want to be like Mary when I feel like the Lord is speaking to me. I want to walk by faith and not by site. What we see in the human realm that may look to be impossible, with God, everything is possible. (verse 37)

    The needs that I have in my life right now that I could use some help with from another woman are uplifting words, reminders of God’s goodness. It’s amazing to see how God works so beautifully in my life. I was actually pondering this last night after doing a study of the book of John with my husband. I came to the realization (thank you Holy Spirit!) that when I get overwhelmed by daily tasks and disappointments, I choose to bask in it and cry out to others how I feel. Why do I not just go to the Creator? My Father in Heaven who cares for me. If we are focusing on ourselves day in and day out, we are going to quickly loose site of being there for others because we become so wrapped up in ourselves. I can connect with other women around me and encourage them, check in, and see how they’re doing. This could mean even just a text a day. When we bless others, God will return it to us. Maybe those other women needed some connection in that moment too even when we didn’t even know. God knows.

  18. Well I sure can relate to this article. I have reached out and reached out and reached out and every connection seems to end in rejection or disaster I’m not sure what to do anymore. It is looking like it is just my Lord, my husband and me in this journey on earth. We have been living the same community for 18 years now and have no friends,lots of acquaintances yes, but no real friends. Sigh!
    I have a wonderful husband but I would love to have girlfriends, Just doesn’t seen to work.

    I’m hanging onto my Hevenly Father, that’s for sure!

  19. My Bible study group at church just finished reading The Women of Christmas and I highly recommend it. Her new book The Women of Easter will be out in January. I’m sure it will be good as well. Liz is a very readable and insightful author and I liked how she sprinkled comments from readers throughout the book. I learned a lot about the 3 women of Christmas: Mary, Elizabeth and Anna. Thank you, Amy for your words as well. Connection is really important and we should embrace it.

    • Amy Carroll says:

      I’ve been reading Liz’s beautiful book in my devotional time. I agree that it’s wonderful for women this time of year!

  20. Yes, I agree.

  21. Sally Ann Price says:

    Thanks for sharing this. Amen.

  22. I have SEARCHED for these women in my life. They are too busy, not interested, etc. I’m glad you found these friends. Does not happen for some of us. Yes, I’ve prayed. Yes, I’ve gone to age-appropriate Bible studies. I can pretty much answer Yes to everything you can ask me. Just wanted to let you know that it’s great, I’m sure, if you meet someone who can help. I just also know it does not happen for some of us.

  23. I m so full of joy tonight for God knows just what we need as women and when we need it. Glory to God for my beautiful and dear sisters in Christ Jesus! Friends I have known over 4o years and till this day are still in my life! Thank You Jesus for the connection I have with these precious women and Forgive me when I did not recognize the blessings of these helping hands that you sent to me Faithful women in Christ Jesus. I Thank you Father for your kindness towards me and for sending these precious women for their encouragement and for their precious Helping Hands!! They are truly a Blessing in my Life! God Bless You All!

  24. Mary went to Elizabeth because the angel told Mary of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. I imagine that knowing Elizabeth was past child-bearing, Mary knew it was a miracle from God, & Elizabeth was the perfect person to share her news with. I love reading that passage in the Bible because it shows how women need other women to teach, to learn, to share, & to lift each other up.

  25. Carla-Marie says:

    Beautiful thoughts. Thank you.

  26. This message is so vital! We do need to connect with other women. We all need to know we are accepted and loved. No matter who we are, background, race, occupation, physical appearance, or age. Christ came for ALL. His love was poured out for all. Yet, he knows us more deeply than any vast ocean. He knows our thoughts, dreams and what bothers us. I think it’s important to remember as we continue to seek women to encourage us, that Christ was rejected by his own. We are not alone. He knows how we feel and also has the power to help us overcome and bring an encourager into our path….like a Mary or Elizabeth.
    God spoke to me the other day, I went ahead of him and did what I thought was the right thing to do. He said, “Did you ask me?” Wow, I had to repent right there. So often I ask others before him. Remind me Holy Spirit to seek him first in my ‘everyday decisions’. He has been through all our tomorrows.

  27. Any words of wisdom for this situation are appreciated. You have a friend, one that you thought was a true deep connection. You shared your struggles you shared joys and everything else for 4 years. Some circumstances change and you no longer run in the same circle. Obviously you won’t spend as much time together but you fight for the relationship. You ask them to lunch. Say I can come by your house. Want to go have coffee? And repeatedly you get no or a canceled date. Do you continue to reach out? Do you let them come to you?

  28. I have never had many friends. I always tend to stick to myself. I have trusted people and tried to make new friends, I have shared my past, and let people into my life only to be either judged or left with the feeling of being rejected. I feel lonely a lot; like the twenty percent that was mentioned in today’s devotion. My kids are my only consistent friends, and they are still little ones, however they show me so much love and vice versa. We are all we have so I just focus on our bond, however it gets lonely. I have a small family and most of my closest friends are just busy with their own lives; so I just pray. Some days are easier, some days are hard. I grew up with a good foundation for knowing who God is, and I am asking that you ladies send a prayer out for me and my children. We have had a hard time but God is going to give us what we need, while we are waiting we need a helping hand…

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