“There is a vast difference in some instances between what we really need and that which we think we must have” (William M. Peck).
NOTHING IS MORE OBVIOUS IN THE WORLD AS IT NOW EXISTS THAN OUR NEEDINESS. None of us can say (at least honestly) that we have everything we need, and we certainly can’t say the world is everything we desire it to be. The fact is, most of us make our living doing things to meet needs that wouldn’t exist in a perfect world. So in both the small scale and the large, human beings aspire. We have needs, and we long for them to be filled completely and permanently.
Yet we find it difficult to understand the precise nature of our needs and seek their true fulfillment. As Adlai Stevenson once said, “Understanding human needs is half the job of meeting them.” It is so easy to be deceived about our needs. When we get something we thought we needed, we often find it unsatisfying, and we’re forced to the conclusion that it wasn’t really what we needed after all.
Our own needs. The first step, for many of us, would be to acknowledge that we are needy. It takes humility to do it, but we must own up to the empty spaces in our hearts. It will be hard enough to assess what our needs truly are, but we can’t begin that process until we admit that our hearts do not presently have all they long for. And even after identifying our needs accurately, we’ll have to learn how to fulfill them rightly. But it all starts with confessing that we have unfulfilled needs.
The needs of others. Life also calls on us to identify what those around us are most in need of, and then learn how to help them in ways that are both good and wise. Yet if this is challenging, it’s also a great joy. No higher satisfaction is available to us than helping fill the needs of other people — and the deeper the need, the higher the joy.
As you can easily see, meeting needs requires both love and wisdom, but it also requires slowing down. So listen to Billy Graham: “We hurt people by being too busy. Too busy to notice their needs. Too busy to drop that note of comfort or encouragement or assurance of love. Too busy to listen when someone needs to talk. Too busy to care.”
“What does love look like? It has hands to help others. It has feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like” (Augustine of Hippo).