Some may see it as a bit unethical, but wow—how the school break room rang with laughter when one of my fellow teachers, Mr. S, told the hermit crab story!

Years before, Mr. S. taught a class of middle school students and they had a class pet—a hermit crab.

A very reclusive hermit crab.

They seldom saw it crawl, as it usually hid within its shell. But the students still loved it dearly, and took great joy in caring for the small crustacean.

Alas, one evening after school Mr. S. discovered the little crab was dead. Rather than put his students through the anguish of losing their beloved class mascot, he derived a simple plan.

Every afternoon after class, he moved the crab from one side of its enclosure to the other. Since the students rarely saw it move in the first place, they believed it to be sleeping during the day and crawling about at night.

For an entire school year, he dutifully moved the empty shell of the dead hermit crab back and forth, and his students never discovered the truth.

It’s a funny story, but it illustrates a sad but poignant truth:

It’s not very difficult to fool people into believing you are vibrant and alive, when inside you are slowly dying.

I did it for years.

I put on a brave face, plastered on a smile, laughed at all the jokes, and pretended everything was okay, when in reality things were far, far from being okay

In my case, I desperately needed help to face things that were happening in my marriage, but I was terrified to reach out for help. So day after day I went through all the motions—moving that shell around, fooling everyone into thinking I was okay.

There’s a danger I see in our churches today—we think we must be strong all the time and never ask for help. After all, we are supposed to live in the power and victory of Christ, right? We are meant to be the strong ones, standing at the front of the battle line, leading the charge to advance the Kingdom of God.

And so we silently repeat our mantra. Don’t show weakness. Don’t admit you need help. Don’t back down.

Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?

Well, actually—no.

Scripture says differently. We are told to “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” {Galatians 6:2}

You can’t bear a burden you don’t know about.

We are commanded to “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” {Romans 12:15}

Again, how are we to weep together if we don’t share our heartaches?

One of my favorite Scriptures about helping one another in times of sorrow is found in Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10. “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.”

The simple fact of the matter is no one can help you up if you’re alone. You can be falling apart every single day, but if you do it behind closed doors, no one will know you need help.

Some may argue, “But we’re supposed to be strong in the Lord. In times of despair and darkness, Jesus is supposed to be the only One we turn to.”

Yes and no.

Sometimes in the Kingdom of Heaven, things that seem to be opposite can both be true. God is our anchor, our refuge, our hope in despair. In times of trouble, He is the One Who holds us close and comforts us.

But He also uses people to help carry our burdens, heal, and comfort us.

Look at the writings of the Apostle Paul. There are times when we see him alone in a jail cell, with no one but Jesus to comfort his broken heart and bleeding body.

At other times, we see him surrounded by his fellow laborers who fed him both physically and spiritually. We see them sharing his burden of ministering to the churches and accompanying him on his mission trips. All through Scripture, we see believers in Christ helping one another and sharing their burdens.

The truth is, we were never created to be alone. We aren’t meant to carry every burden by ourselves.

We don’t have to keep pretending everything is okay when it isn’t.

Are you carrying a burden that grows heavier with each passing day? Are you struggling under the weight of a heartache that crushes your spirit?

Then reach out.

Find a trustworthy friend in your church, Bible study group, or community. Ask them for help. There is no shame in admitting weakness. And chances are, after they have pulled you to your feet, dusted you off, and encouraged you to keep looking for the sun amidst the clouds, they’re going to need help themselves.

Then you will be the strong one, reaching down to help them to their feet. You will be the shoulder to cry on and the anchor in the storm.

We were never meant to walk alone.

“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” {Proverbs 17:17}

“And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.” {I Samuel 23:16}

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