God helps those who ask

It’s been said that women are less likely to ask for what they want, while men are more likely to take it or negotiate for it.  I generally dislike gender stereotypes because they tend to make the outliers feel like weirdos, but the research is compelling on this one. Top universities have been using the findings of economics professor Linda Babcock in her book Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide to address the trend of socialization and organizational dynamics that results in women being paid more than half a million dollars less than their male counterparts over the course of their working careers.

The answer is probably not for girls to be socialized exactly as boys have been, and competing in the market economy is hardly the goal of life, in my opinion. But I am interested in the difficulty of asking.  In and beyond our jobs, I doubt that asking for what we need and want is easy for most women or men.  It requires vulnerability and humility and risks rejection and disappointment—or so we’ve experienced.  Most of us have learned that relying on ourselves is generally the best bet.  God helps those who helps themselves, right?

Not really. Seems to me that God helps everyone, and particularly those who ask. All over the Bible I find encouragement to ask for what I need. There’s even a story about a woman who negotiated with Jesus for a “crumb” from his table.  She was looking for healing for her demon-possessed daughter and Jesus seemed to be ignoring her.  But she kept asking, “Lord, help me!”  Even when his response was not affirmative, she argued and claimed that she was worth getting at least a crumb from his table.  Jesus saw her faith and healed her daughter.

We will not always remember our worth or or have faith in God’s generosity, and thankfully God’s grace is not dependent on our insight or perseverance. But we may as well ask. We have wounds to be healed, and so do the people around us. Asking and trusting God for what we need unleashes the power of God in us and through us. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13).

I have friends who say that they never pray for themselves because it’s too selfish. Maybe that’s noble, but I doubt it. I need help every day, as soon as I wake up.  “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5). I need to remember who am I in Christ and find myself in the flow of his great love and partnership.

So here’s my big ask for today; maybe you want to pray with me: Lord, may our Circle of Hope include the next person who is looking for you. We want to do your person-to-person loving. Heal our wounds and renew our hope. Help us to dismantle evil by the power of the Spirit. Give us your imagination for ourselves and our future, and bring all people together to be Your living body here on earth.