Today, I’ve been thinking about three incidents in which a representative of God, or the Savior Himself, asked a stranger for sustenance:
- During a severe drought, the prophet Elijah approached a poor widow near the gate of the city of Zarephath. “Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink,” he said. As she went to retrieve the water, he added another request: “Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand” (1 Kings 17:10-11).
- After Alma was abused and kicked out of the city of Ammonihah, he returned to the city. He had been fasting for several days (Alma 10:7). As he reentered the city, he approached a man he didn’t know and asked, “Will ye give to an humble servant of God something to eat?” (Alma 8:19).
- Near the beginning of his ministry, Jesus sat alone on a well at about noon. When a Samaritan woman approached to draw water, He said, “Give me to drink” (John 4:7).
In all three of these cases, the person responded favorably to the request and was blessed for it.
These three givers are wonderful examples of generosity and faith. Today, however, I’m thinking about the askers: Elijah, Alma, and the Savior. Why would a servant of God be in a position of needing help from a stranger? Here are a few ideas:
- It’s easy to respect and admire the person who seems powerful and successful. The real test is whether we can recognize a servant of the Lord who appears to be destitute.
- Since God’s ultimate goal is for us to progress and achieve our full potential, His servants invite us to act and to give.
- Asking for help requires humility, and servants of God must be humble.
These insights help me understand why Jesus instructed His apostles to travel without purse or scrip (without provisions or money). (See Matthew 10:9-10, Mark 6:8, Luke 9:3, Luke 10:4.) In doing so, they not only demonstrated their faith in God, but they also provided opportunities for other people to serve them. Asking others for help represents a vote of confidence in them and an opportunity for them to stretch and grow.
In my current calling at church, I have frequent opportunities to ask other people for help. I sometimes feel self-conscious about this, but these stories from the scriptures have helped me to feel more confident. When I ask other people for help, I’m in good company.
Today, I will follow the examples of Elijah, Alma, and the Savior in asking for the help I need. I will remember that a request for help is a vote of confidence. I will trust that people around me are willing to help. And I will remember that acknowledging my need for help can make me more humble.