I’m still reading the devotional book (Paul Tripp’s “New Morning Mercies”) that Dina asked me to read. I will be reading it all year. I find that about one devotion a week is useful, the rest are fluff. However, because she is willing to keep asking me how I am doing with it, and also listen to me complain and criticize, I am keeping up with it.
I wanted to blog about the March 17th devotion.
Here it is:
If you put too many things in your need category, you will end up frustrated with life, hurt by others, and doubting God’s goodness.
It really is one of the sloppiest words used in human culture. If need means “essential for life,” then the vast majority of the things we say that we need we don’t actually need. You know this if you have children or are around children. Let’s say you’re a parent and you have taken your child to the mall (which is your first mistake). As you’re walking through the mall, your child sees the sneaker store and immediately makes a left-hand turn. Now, with nose pressed against the window of the store, he says, “Mom, I neeeeeeeed those sneakers.” You look down at his feet, which are encased in perfectly good shoes, and you say: “No, I’m not getting you those sneakers. You already have perfectly good shoes.” Now, when you say this, your child does not think: “What a wise mother I have been blessed with. She has seen through my distorted sense of need, has recognized selfish desire, and has lovingly rescued me from me.” No, your child lashes out against you: “You always say ‘no’ to me. I don’t know why I have to have the one mom who hates sneakers.” Then your child refuses to relate to you for the rest of the time that you are in the mall.
When you tell yourself that something is a need, three things folio’ First, you feel entitled to the thing, because, after all, it is a need. Second, because it is a need, you feel it’s your right to demand it. And third, you then judge the love of another person by his or her willingness to deliver the thing. This not only happens in our relationships with one another, but more important, it happens in our relationship with God. When you name something as a need and God doesn’t deliver it, you begin to doubt his goodness. What is deadly about this is that you simply don’t run for help to someone whose character you’ve come to doubt.
In Matthew 6:32, Jesus reminds us that we have a heavenly Father who knows exactly what we need. There is comfort and confrontation in Jesus’s words. The confrontation is this: the reason Jesus reminds us that we have a Father who has a clear understanding of our true needs is because we don’t have such an understanding. We constantly get needs and wants confused, and when we do, we are tempted to question the love of our heavenly Father. The comfort is that, by grace, we have been made to be the children of the wisest, most loving Father that the universe has ever known. He is never, ever confused. He knows our every need because he created us. We can rest in the grace that has made us his children, knowing that our place in his family guarantees that we will have what we need.
For further study and encouragement: Psalm 145
I’m posting this because it applies to me. I have a need for recognition and acknowledgement from Christian women, and for a very long time in my life, I had to do without it, despite making what I considered to be all the right moves. I don’t think anyone would say that I was not a successful person, and not a successful man. But I think something has changed in the culture that makes it harder to get appropriate recognition from women, even if you do all the right things. So I had to face this problem of having an unmet need for most of my life, until I started blogging and met tons and tons of women who recognized and acknowledged me. (My love language is words of encouragement)
I think the best thing I can say about this is that it hasn’t affected my willingness to serve God. I remember having a conversation with an atheist woman who expected God to meet all her needs. She expected him to appear to her and explain why she had certain bad experiences. And of course he didn’t appear, because it’s a suffering religion. The founder of the religion did everything right, and he still suffered. You can do everything right as a Christian, and still suffer. When you are suffering really badly from unmet needs, the best you can do is decide to keep faith with God and not let your unmet needs cause you to dump him.
So I guess my advice to all of you is to say that I am right with you having an unmet need. But if I can keep doing my job for God, then you can do it, too. You can have needs. You can ask for them to be met. You can talk to God about it. But it still may not be forthcoming. And then you have a decision to make. Make the decision I made, and resolve to keep serving regardless of whether your needs get met.