Saturday, June 23, 2012

Wants vs. Needs

Wants and needs. It’s a difference that we can’t always discern. We are compelled to trust that God knows what we need, even if it doesn’t line up with what we want.
            If I could assess my desire to get married, I’d put it in the “want” category. I’m not sure I’d qualify it as a need. I only hope God will put it in the need category and fulfill it even though it’s something I think I could survive without.
            In Hannah Whitall Smith’s book The God of All Comfort she says, “Often, in order to give us the thing we need, God is obliged to keep us from the thing we want.”
            Here’s the trouble I have with such a statement. Not in any way subtracting from the truth of the statement, I just want to reveal where my mind goes when I think about such things:
            God will only give me the things I need, not the things I want. Therefore, unless something is an absolute need in my physical or spiritual life, God will not supply it. I will be starved of earthly pleasures and given a feast of situations and circumstances that will serve my holiness but never feed my happiness.
            Wow. Let’s break out the pom-poms and have a cheer for Christianity.
            Several years ago, God decided I needed to learn what trusting Him really meant. I was infiltrated with this idea that God wanted to bring Himself glory with no thought or care for me. Through an intensely emotional season as well as the book Trusting God by Jerry Bridges, He taught me that my good and His glory go hand in hand. One will not happen without the other. What is good for me will bring Him glory. What brings Him glory will always be good for me.
            If that’s too complicated, we need no other proof for trusting God than Jesus’ death on the cross.
            But that doesn’t answer the question posed by the desire of our hearts. I’m a person with serious tunnel vision if I can’t see that earthly pleasures surround me, little and big things that I could most certainly survive without. The fact that I’m writing this on a MacBook, the coffee I’m drinking right now, the fact that it’s 85 degrees outside (feels like 70 degrees compared to 109 degrees). Do I need these things?
            If this isn’t proof enough for me, God tells us Himself, “If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so you Father in Heaven?”
            It’s hard for me to imagine any good parent, in the moths proceeding Christmas, walking down the isle of stores looking for gifts for their children, picking up the t-ball set or the Barbie doll and as they hold it in their hands saying, “Now will this serve to aid my child in their physical or spiritual growth?”
            I would like to suggest that God likes to see us smile, probably even more than we like to do it. I would like to suggest, that good gifts that we don’t necessarily need will often serve our spiritual growth as we receive those gifts with joy from the hand of a Father who enjoys seeing His children joyful.
            A few years ago, my younger sister got it into her head that she wanted a baby turtle for a pet. A couple days after she expressed her desire for a baby turtle, she walked outside and found a baby turtle crawling in the front yard.
            She might have forgotten she wanted a baby turtle even a few months later. It might not have bothered her very much if she didn’t ever get one. She would have been content without that turtle. But God decided He wanted to give her a gift, just to remind her of His love, and to remind all of us who witnessed the event, how deeply He cares for us.

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