When It’s Good to Be Dependent

As parents, we ultimately work ourselves out of a job. As much as we love our children and miss them when they leave home, we want them to be able to stand on their own two feet as responsible adults. We’ll always listen, support, and help them when they need it, if we’re able. But there is every likelihood we’ll be gone before they are, so they need to function independently.

Spiritually, though, we never outgrow our dependence on God. In fact, we mature more spiritually the more we realize our need for dependence on God.

In Psalm 30, David said, “As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.” By your favor, O Lord, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed” (verses 6-7). Warren Wiersbe says “prosperity” here means “careless ease, a carefree self-assurance because things are going well” (Be Worshipful [Psalms 1-89]: Glorifying God for Who He Is, p. 116).

That happens all too easily, doesn’t it? When things are going well, we forget God is the One who made them go well. We get comfortable, and we forget our need for God . . . until a crisis comes up. The Bible is replete with examples of individuals and nations who went through that pattern.

My friend J. D. Wininger is a rancher who wrote recently about depending on God through unpredictable weather. His area faced eighteen months of drought last year. Now they’ve had so much rain, he can’t harvest some crops or plant others. I’ve often thought that the life of a farmer or rancher is one of felt dependence on God through all the things that can happen to influence the outcome of crops and herds.

But people in other occupations are just as dependent, even if they don’t know it. Employees think everything is going fine, until they receive notice that their particular job has been phased out, or their company is closing or has been bought by someone else. A new technology can put a whole industry out of business.

As the recent pandemic showed us, one part of society affects another. Suddenly we couldn’t count on finding basic supplies at the grocery store or even a bed in the hospital when needed.

And it’s not just in the area of physical provision that the rug can be pulled out from under us. We can be on top of the world socially. Then a poorly-worded tweet gets us “canceled.” Or a rumor or misunderstanding turns friends against us. David wrote, “All who hate me whisper together about me; they imagine the worst for me . . . Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me” (Psalm 41:7, 9). Job lamented, “My relatives have failed me, my close friends have forgotten me. . . All my intimate friends abhor me, and those whom I loved have turned against me” (Job 19:14, 19).

Many of us have had the experience of being in perfect health one day only to be hit with a debilitating illness out of the blue. Or a loved one who seemed fine is found to have cancer that has been growing for months.

Does God shake things up for us sometimes as a thump on the head to remind us that we need Him? I don’t think so. He’s a loving father, not a capricious one.

We live in a fallen world and have an active enemy. God allows suffering for many reasons.

But I think He does teach us through His Word and through life experiences to remember to depend on Him for everything. He reminds us that He is our creator, provider, protector, friend. He promises to meet all our needs. He promises to be with us in any trial.

When we forget any of those things and become self-reliant, we usually get ourselves into trouble. I did a study once on what happens when we want our own way. It’s not pleasant.

Recently I was praying over a recurrent physical issue. As pondering and prayer intermingled, my thoughts ran something like this; “You know, most people don’t even think about this, much less pray about it. Am I going to have to pray about this every day? Can’t I just ask You to take care of it now and forever?”

The “Lord’s prayer” came to mind, where Jesus instructed His disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Our daily bread. Not enough for the week, or a lifetime. But just what we need for today.

One day King Asa of Judah faced a much larger army from Ethiopia that had come against Judah (2 Chronicles 14). “And Asa cried to the Lord his God, ‘O Lord, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, you are our God; let not man prevail against you’” (verse 11).

I looked up the Hebrew word translated “rely” and read some of those occurrences here. The word can also be translated, lean, stay, and rest.

Rest.

Isn’t that what happens when we rely on God? We don’t have to worry about what’s going to happen. We can trust and obey.

Jean Sophia Pigott caught this idea of resting in the Lord in her marvelous hymn, “Jesus, I am Resting, Resting.”

Simply trusting thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold thee as thou art,
And thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its ev’ry need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed.

As God’s child, I never outgrow my need for Him. I never become independent from Him. The farther I go in life, the more I realize I need Him for everything, great and small.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5).

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