Not often, but every once in awhile, Israel came up against her enemies in the wilderness and needed to fight. In one particular battle, the onus for victory fell upon Moses, who stood on a high place within sight of the battle.
As long as Moses had his hands raised, Israel prevailed; but as soon as Moses let his hands down, she began to lose. The battle raged on for hours upon hours, time upon time, longer than any man could possibly stand in one spot with his hands raised. You wonder, maybe, if Moses standing at the battle with his hands raised has any typological connection to Christ on the Cross with His hands outstretched, but I digress.
At some point, those tending to Moses recognize how tired he is, how it's becoming more and more of a struggle for him to keep his own arms in the air. So they come alongside him and raise up his hands for him, each man taking an arm and holding it high so that Israel can win the battle.
Most of us think this is what it means to help one another. To come alongside. We want to serve each other and be of use in our brothers' and sisters' times of need, so we come and stand and use our strength to raise their tired hands, thinking this is the best possible thing we could do for them.
In one sense, maybe that's true. After all, it's not much of a stretch to say that what Moses wanted most in that moment was an Israelite victory. It's what he had his eyes set on. It was the goal he was working toward. He kept his hands raised for an inhuman amount of time because he cared deeply about what was happening as a result of his actions. He had his eyes on the prize, so to look at Moses in this moment and to wonder how to best help him is to see what he's looking at, to see what he sees, and to go after it with him.
That's really only half of the story.
And it's a good thing, but it's not the best thing.
Because look what else those who tended to Moses thought to do for him in this moment. He's been up there for hours, an excruciatingly long time. His arms are weary, but so is the rest of him. So before they come alongside him to raise his arms, his friends move a rock over for him to sit on. Yes, sit. They give rest to his weary body, not just strength to his failing arms.
This is the part we often forget when we're trying to help one another. We get so busy looking at what our brothers and sisters are looking at that we forget to look at our brothers and sisters and see their very human needs, their very real needs. And it's the small things that are easiest to overlook.
I mean, who would have thought Moses, in the midst of battle, might need to sit down?
His friends, that's who. And if we are any good friends at all, it's the kind of thing that we must recognize, too.
We must have eyes for the man and not just the war. We must recognize what the human needs are, not just what the battle plan is. Everyone is fighting a fight, often that we know nothing about, but we're all doing it in the same flesh. The same failing, broken, weary flesh.
Let us never fail to see that in each other, for this is often the place where we offer the deepest love.