It's been said that the most basic Christian prayer is simply, "Help!" It's a prayer of surrender, desperation and acknowledgment. It's a humble, simple, honest cry. And it's one that Christ-followers have been making for thousands upon thousands of years.
Think back to the time of the Judges. You're probably familiar with the cycle: God's people, the Israelites, would grow complacent in their wealth and prosperity. In their complacency, they would turn away from God. In response, He withdrew His blessing, bringing about oppression and war. As the hardships chipped away at the Israelites hardened hearts, they would finally cry out for help, at which point God would call a man or a woman as a "judge," or savior for the nation. The threat would be overthrown, peace restored, and the community once again brought into right relationship with God as they followed the judge's leadership. But they would later fall away again, and begin the cycle anew.
How often do you feel like you're at the low-point of the judge's cycle - oppressed and backed into a corner, crying out, "Help!" to God? What kind of help are you expecting?
The absolutely fascinating point is that when the Israelites cried out to God, His rescue was found in establishing authority figures in the Israelites' lives - the judges. That is to say, God never rescued the Israelites from oppression by merely removing the offending authority - He always replaced it with His own. God grants us freedom by pointing us to true authority - His authority.
This should make us pause and ask, "When I'm feeling oppressed or burdened, what authority has God placed in my life that I'm not listening to?" It also challenges us to remember that when we're crying, 'Help!', God will often be responding with, 'Listen.'
But what a beautiful truth, 'Listen' is! Listen says - "I've already given you the answer!" Listen says, "I know your pain, your confusion and your hurt. I've anticipated it, seen it, and provided for it." Listen says, "You are free to follow Me - and in doing so, you can hope."
We are free in Christ - freed by Christ - not to live our lives as we choose, but to freely submit to God's good authority. In God's authority is peace, full joy and true contentment. Don't flee it, and don't avoid those God places in your life to be authority figures.