what is the purpose of need?

Posted: August 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

If you need something, give it away. 

This is a principle practiced in the 12 steps, wherein one understands that an important part of maintaining sobriety is helping others who are on the same journey. 

It is a biblical principal – Proverbs 18:24 tells us that if we want to have a friend, we must be a friend. 

Common sense tells us that if we are lonely, our best route is to help someone else not to be lonely.

It is a good practice for marriage – when I need something, I’ve learned to give whatever I need to G in abundance.  This is not some effort to manipulate him – giving in hopes that he’ll get a clue and give the same back – though I’ve certainly seen folks operate that way.  It’s just that I’ve learned – when I give away a bunch of what I feel I need, somehow God meets me there and fills the need in a way that is different but equally satisfying.  And hey…sometimes G gives me back what I was giving, too, so that’s a bonus.  🙂

I’ve known all of this for a long time.  But I got a different perspective on it recently.  I was in a small group that was praying for a larger group.  Some of those in the room with me were tuned sharply into their own needs – not so that they could say, “Pray for me,” but because they were presuming that the sudden perception of a strong need might be a sign – a message.   They were listening for unusual feelings, whether emotional or physical, that might not be actually “theirs” but instead just a sign from God that someone needed prayer for the same.  Like – someone got a headache that lasted for just a few seconds, so we prayed for anyone in the larger group that had a headache.  That kind of thing.

In that interaction, my perception of “need” shifted.  I am now wondering:  how much of what we perceive as NEED is really just a communication, from God or even just from ourselves?  How many times, when I feel unexpectedly moody, is that just a sign that I should be praying for someone else who is, unbeknownst to me, struggling with a similar mood?  How often, when my body feels badly, is it actually a sign that God wants me to pray for someone else’s body that isn’t doing so well?  How often, when money seems short, should I be aggressively looking for someone worse than me to bless, and leaving my shortfall up to the One who owns the cattle on 10,000 hills? 

In other words, how often is my “need” a real need…and how often is it just a prayer barometer that I am misreading?  And then…of the times when it is a real need…how often could I get the need met by faithfully giving whatever is needed away and trusting God with the process, rather than wailing about what I need and asking others to pray that God will give it to me?  What if, in today’s culture, we are getting “need” all wrong?

I heard a pastor teach once that this business of asking God to make stuff better for us is fairly new – that up until a few hundred years ago or something like that, people didn’t make such a request, mostly.  They mostly just asked God to strengthen them to bear well what they were given.  I’m betting if we prayed more like that, and also aggressively gave away what we “need”…we might be astonished at the ways God would decide to show off. 

Just guessing, here.  But sure having fun doing so. 

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