Content to Be Needy

Each and every one of us has needs. We have spiritual needs, physical needs, emotional needs, and there’s probably another category I haven’t thought of. There’s no denying that the human race is a needy bunch, and women are no exception. So there’s point one.

The second point is that God made us this way. It’s not a sin to be needy, but there are ways that this neediness can lead to sin, and I’ll get to that in a minute. God created us to need community, to need love and acceptance and fellowship. Ultimately, we need God. When we are put right with our Creator, our deepest needs for forgiveness and restoration and fellowship with our Father in Heaven are met. But even after being put right with God, because we are still fallen creatures, we will still have ongoing physical needs, emotional needs, and spiritual needs.  None of these needs of ours will stay in neat little categories. They slop over into other categories. They can be unruly. So what do we do?

For our physical needs, God gave most of us two hands, and He wants us to work. If we are hungry, we find a job. That’s what God designed us for. Ideally, fathers and husbands provide for their families, and  mothers and wives help provide for these things as well. Physical needs are probably the easiest to identify: the kids have outgrown their clothes, and it’s time for new ones.

For our spiritual needs, God has provided His Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to teach us and lead us, to convict us of sin and forgive us. God has given us His Word to direct our steps,  He has given us the Church to teach us and feed us,  and  He has given us one another for fellowship and friendship. But we often do not avail ourselves of these provisions. We skip church, we don’t read our Bibles, and we harden our hearts against the Holy Spirit. No wonder we feel spiritually dry!

But what about those frisky emotional needs? Where do they get met? Our emotional needs get met in relationships, but primarily in relationship to God the Father. We must begin there because if we look to our fellow creatures first, no matter how godly they are, we are guaranteed to be disappointed. Husbands get distracted, parents get busy, children grow up and move out, friends come and go. And on top of that, husbands, parents, children, and friends are all sinners. They were not designed to fulfill all our needs. If we lean too heavily on any of them, we are bound to crush them and hurt ourselves.

Women can get very distracted with their own needs because those are the needs most pressing. We are all well acquainted with our own needs, or at least we think we are.  But I think we are prone to get deceived at this very point. When we begin to get overly concerned about our needs, we are most certainly going to see the ways they are not being met. We seldom think about our needs when we are happily going along doing our duties. It is when we feel lonely, unappreciated, or tired that we see how our needs are not being met. We don’t wake up one fine sunny morning feeling great and marvel at how our needs are not getting met. Those are the days we can forget to think about our needs at all.

I don’t believe we can ever understand this category of emotional needs. No woman on earth can be fully aware of all the intricacies of her own heart. And (as Walter Trobisch put it) there’s not a man on earth who can satisfy the heart of a woman. If we don’t understand our own needs, how can we possibly expect our husbands to understand them? He is, after all, just a man. He can’t know all his wife’s needs, and even if he did, he could not meet them all. As I’ve said before, if it was in God’s plan that Jesus should marry while on earth (and, thankfully and obviously, it couldn’t have been in God’s plan), He would have been the perfect husband, right? But He would have had to marry a imperfect woman, and I can hear her saying things like, “Jesus, why are you late again? Didn’t you remember we had a date? I know you were healing blind men, but what about me and my needs?” I hope you see my point.

Women who are looking desperately for their needs to be filled will become clingy, emotional, even pests. You can see this in little girls who manipulate and pout and you can see it in grown women who manipulate and pout. Wives can smother their husbands with their neediness, they can drive friends away because of their obsession with their own needs, and they can actually make themselves miserable in the process.

Wives can become mighty distracted with their own needs and fail to see the big picture. This is where we can stumble and sin. We become discontent and critical. We begin to see our husbands as failures because they are not meeting our needs. We think we deserve better. We think more highly of ourselves than we ought. It would be wiser to think for a minute about our husbands needs. Are we as well acquainted with his needs as with our own? Are we meeting these needs?

The best cure for those times when we feel needy (which may be all the time) is to go to God for them. Confess being overly-distracted with me-ness. Confess the discontent. Confess the ingratitude for the many good things God has provided. Confess the whining (to yourself or to other women) about the way your husband isn’t meeting your needs. Ask God to fill the gaps your husband has left. Lean on Him to meet all those needs. Certainly you should ask God to enable your husband to be a good husband and father. But you may not have the right picture in your mind of what a good husband and father would look like. Pray for him, but don’t pray for him in a self-centered way. Central to the Christian life is the principle of laying down your life for another. Do that for your husband and your children. And do it again tomorrow. And the next day. That’s what it means to take up your cross and follow Jesus.

So am I saying that we might have to be content to be needy? Yes. It’s good to be needy. When we are needy, we are more eager to get grace, we are more apt to get in God’s Word, and that is good. Being needy may even help us understand others better so we  can minister with more wisdom to our own husbands,  children, and  friends.

Was Jesus ever needy? How did He handle it? He was certainly under-appreciated, misunderstood, lonely, and He carried a tremendous load on our behalf. Was He distracted with His own neediness? No. He was taken up with our neediness, and He still is. We have a Savior who is a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He knows. That’s why we must take all our needs, real and imagined, to Him. That’s where we will find all our needs truly met.

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12 thoughts on “Content to Be Needy

  1. Nancy, these thoughts answer so many questions I’ve had for myself and my growing daughters. Those ‘tricky’ emotional needs are a constant challenge. What a sweet blessing to be reminded that our God would so order our world and our lives that we must continue to keep coming to Him with our needs. And in being forced to come to Him, He guards us from idolatry. Thank you for this well-ordered, thoughtful and encouraging word. It hit the spot!

  2. Thank you to infinity and beyond! This answers so many of my questions and gives great hope.

  3. Nancy, how do you prioritize the many ways in which you could meet your husband’s needs? Each day I’m not sure what to spend the most time on: a nice meal, an attractive home, helping with admin, running errands. All of these things bless my husband, but sometimes I have to choose between them- do you have any magic formula for prioritizing which of these ways of helping is more important. For example is it better to have a messy home, but to show hospitality to your congregation? Or to have a dull meal, but to finish off your admin? What comes first – your husband’s work, your husband’s pleasure, your home?


  4. deep breath…”(s)he who hates reproof is stupid” prov. 12b — read that this morning, read your exhortation this afternoon…stings, in a good way…

  5. Sarah,
    I don’t think it’s easy to make those decisions, especially if we try to examine them as though we are standing at a corner, trying to decide whether to turn right or left. If we spend too much time there, we’ll do neither. But if we commit our ways to the Lord and walk cheerfully before Him, He will direct our steps. We walk by faith through the day, and we work hard unto Him. This is what pleases and glorifies God. So I don’t think I can give you a magic formula because God hasn’t given us one. He wants us to trust Him for wisdom at each turn and keep moving.

  6. And sometimes it’s good to laugh a bit at our ‘needs’, knowing they’ll take a turn at the next hormone change!

  7. The Holy Spirit has been preparing for me a place of correction and conviction in His ever wise and sovereign timing. I was unaware of it’s coming but am grateful for His loving, gracefilled discipline. I am thankful, also, for your wise words in being part of the means He has ordained to further my sanctification and bring my focus back entirely to Him and not on my “needs”. Thank you.

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