God Helps Those

Before a quiz or a test, Brother Oswin at Ryken Hugh School used to warn us against cheating during the exam by saying “God helps those who help themselves; but God help those who get caught helping themselves.”

I thought of Brother Os and him caveating that saying when I heard a commentator on the radio recently make the “God helps those…” statement in reference to a discussion about unemployment benefits.  The commentator felt that the folks seeking unemployment benefits are not really looking for work in the first place and hence they are not helping themselves.  He used the “God-helps-those…” as his rationale for concluding that further unemployment benefits are not needed and hence should not be in the next CARES bill.   

While I got the guy’s point, the more I thought about it the less I agreed with him.  The more I thought about him invoking the “God helps” explanation, the more it led me to question the veracity of the saying.  It also made me wonder whether or not it really made any sense as it pertains to someone unemployed and in need of a job.  

So I did what I usually do when unsure of just what it is I’m thinking about an issue and consulted the Wikipedia folks about the saying God helps those who help themselves.  To read a good discussion of it  (click here.)

Turns out that far better minds than mine have also had some reservations about the “God helps” saying and its implications.  If you scroll down in the above Wiki link to “Prevailing Views” you’ll see what I’m referring to.  (I also learned  that contrary to popular acceptance and beliefs, the saying itself is not from the Bible.  Some dude named Algernon Sydney first coined it when writing about the roles of government in our lives.  That Algernon was eventually executed for treason sounds to me like he coulda used some of God’s help somewhere along the line.)   

As for the “God helps” saying and its relevance to someone seeking employment, I also found this good explanation that cites that very circumstance (click here.)  It confirms the “God helps” saying by noting that someone who wants a job needs to help himself by going out and actively looking for one as the job is not going to come to him.

My push back with that line of reasoning is that if an unemployed waiter is in search of job but all of the restaurants are closed, the bottom line is – he ain’t getting one.  That boy needs some help from God or someone.  And like Mick once noted, we all need someone we can lean on.  (I think Mick is also talking about leaning on some sex and drugs too but let’s let that marinate for another day.)

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