Hope McKeever provides some fine viewpoints on “needs,” based on her experiences in Cameroon and elsewhere. Not only does the Lord meet us as the highest point of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the Lord is, in fact, the provider and sustainer all the way through…
We were created with needs. Food, drink, shelter, and clothing. These crucial needs define our lives. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. They don’t receive a headline in the paper or a news story on the BBC website only to be watched or read. They are forgotten. Death’s cloak is slipped over their innocent bodies unheard of by the outside world. Their cries are muted by the bustle of society. Globalissues.org states that nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names. The statistics are endless. Humanity constantly suffers from needs.
Every individual on this planet also has unquenchable needs. Needs for love, acceptance, power, and respect. Family, friends, and political positions all aid in filling the void that these needs produce. We strive to have these needs fulfilled. That is why humans create countless distractions and ways to overlook these needs. From my history of living on three diversely different continents, I have a need in my soul for belonging. My friends are faithful, yet they do not fully understand my history. Living overseas is all that I have ever known. It is not a feat that I have accomplished. It is a childhood past that haunts my existence and my dreams at night. I will never be the care-free, barefooted, African-American girl with long braided hair and a mud stained face that I once was. I have had to learn over the years how to take my past and apply it to my future instead of wallowing in my past. This idealized version of my childhood, created by my dreams, results in a longing in my heart to give to the starving children that I used to hear banging on my gate, but now hear crying on sugar coated news stories.
Reflecting on my experience in Cameroon, West Africa, I have come to the conclusion that the poorest Cameroonians are the individuals with the biggest hearts. They have nothing to lose by giving. My family’s village father or chief in North West Cameroon spent an entire month’s salary for a dinner of rice, sodas, and meat for my family and I. He sacrificed his family’s needs to provide for friends. What I have also come to realize is that the richest people on earth are the coldest. The thought of giving their hard-earned earthly inheritance to others who have not worked the same way to earn their income is unthinkable.
My uncle is a multimillionaire. When my parents were raising support to leave for the missions field, they did not receive a single penny of his money. My parents’ decision to leave for Africa was seen by my entire extended family as a mistake because they were not earning a high salary. My parents gave up their comfort zone to serve people that needed hope. My experiences in Cameroon could never be traded in for all the Coach purses or diamond rings in the entire world. My observation that the poor in this world are the richest in love leads me to believe that all needs are unable to be quenched by earthly solutions.
I am constantly hungry for satisfaction that is intangible by earthly means. Every need points to a greater need and longing for God. In John chapter four, Jesus is speaking to a Samaritan woman at a well.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
The woman’s need for water points to a greater need for the water of life. The eternal satisfaction that God offers does not compare to the frail needs that constantly overwhelm our lives. Earthly wells dry out; however, the springs of eternal life do not. When we come to Christ on our bruised knees with human needs, he reveals to us our true need and hunger for a relationship with our creator. Our inevitable sin shows us a deep need for the grace of God.
God knows that if he constantly grants our human needs, we will be hungry again. Our earthly bodies are an example of this. We are never fully satisfied physically. Even elvish lembas bread wears off after one day. No make believe cuisine or food that can be obtained in the frozen section of our local grocery store can fulfill the hunger in our souls.
Just as the Samaritan’s need for water points to a greater need for the water of eternal life, my need for belonging points to a greater need for a heavenly home with Jesus. Through my family’s counsel, I came to realize that no place on this planet can satisfy my deep need for a heavenly home with my Savior. This is a point that my frail emotions do not understand. Although my earthly brain cannot comprehend the reasons why God put this unending trial before me, my soul leans on the grace and assurance of God’s never ending faithfulness to carry me through my overwhelming life. Jesus knows how to challenge me so that my earthly needs are constantly pointing to him.