While reading a book of inspirational thoughts, I came across a section titled “Wants and Needs.” After drawing a distinction between what we humans want and what we need (particularly from God’s perfect perspective), the author explores the idea of relationships as they apply to needs:
“It isn’t always easy to accept that someone in our life is the exact person we need in our life to help us learn, grow, and develop into what God planned for us in the first place.”*
A few moments of thought persuaded me that this has proven true in my life in various ways… A college roommate with grating habits that taught me patience. A past coworker who (unwittingly) challenged me to upgrade my ability to overlook offenses and forgive as Christ forgave. Mature believers who modeled excellent qualities I didn’t yet have… You get the idea: God can and does use other humans to mold us into better people even when those “needed ones” don’t realize He’s using them.
But then I pondered further: If it’s true we need others to improve, conversely there must be people out there who need me (despite my shortcomings and the fact that I remain a work in progress). Who needs me? In what ways do they need me? And am I meeting their needs as God intends? Or am I so absorbed with my own problems and agenda that I’m failing those who need me?
A bit of reflection reveals a few way each of us could meet others’ needs:
- I can smile. Is there someone who simply needs a tiny uplift?
- I can listen. Is someone burdened with a weight they need to share, in person, or by phone, or by email?
- I have knowledge. Does somebody need information I carry in my head?
- I have abilities. Could someone be in need of my skills?
- I can pray. Although I’m too limited to pray for all the world’s needs, God has put me in contact with specific people. Some have problems only God can solve. Am I being a friend and upholding them in prayer?
Of course, there are other ways to meet needs. Americans tend to throw money at problems (and sometimes that’s valid). But better solutions might involve donating time and self, in short, caring enough to be involved.
So, Lord, which people in my life need me, despite my imperfections? The closer the friend, the more likely You put here to help. Here am I. Send me.
*It Is Well with My Soul, by Judi Robinson, copyright 2016, p. 57 (https://www.createspace.com/6510186)