Unmet Needs vs Desires: Understanding Them Biblically

I love shoes. I should have been an insect. Then I could wear 3 pairs of shoes at once. Oh, and did I mention that I also need shoes? If you could see my closet full of shoeboxes, you’d think I’m a centipede. But, regardless as to how many pairs of shoes I have, I want more. DSW thinks I work there (bad idea).

So, if not shoes, what do you think you need right now? Maybe your list is short, but from my experience, you’ll always have some kind of list. Think about it…. even if you think you’re pretty well set, it could be that you’re convinced you need some kind of an idea to happen, i.e. the idea of being successful, the idea of a spouse changing, the idea of what your future should look like, the idea of being happy (whatever that means). We throw around our list of needs without thinking about what we’re really saying, because we know that a need is something we can’t live without…. it’s a necessity. However, sadly, so many things that are truly, understandable desires, somehow get moved from that-would-be-nice-to-have, to I-won’t-be-happy-until-I-have-it.

Now, we know we have a physical need for food, water, and oxygen in order to live, but what are our true spiritual needs? What are our true needs in order to know that our lives have real meaning and value? What does God say about it? After all, He created us, and the creator always knows what His creation needs. Artists know what their creations need in order for their canvas to come alive and speak to you. Composers know what their music needs in order for the notes to come together and touch your soul. Likewise, God knew what His creation needed in order for His precious ones to reflect His image and know peace in the process. Yet, we’re so unsettled. I hear my own heart longing for relationships to happen in my life that I have yearned for, and so often have blindly followed the idea, that it would be the ‘end all be all’ for my soul to rest if they would happen. It’s so easy to do.

Wouldn’t you like to know and believe that your true spiritual needs have already been met? I know, it’s music to my soul when I’m reminded of the truth. I’m not just talking about knowing what the Word says. Too many of us believers in Christ can repeat a familiar Scripture like our ABC’s, but what we say we know doesn’t have any real depth to change us. I’m talking about a deep, personal understanding that God, in Christ, met what your soul needed at Calvary. So, believer, if you struggle with unrest over deep longings, listen up.

God created us with a need to be loved, and that need has been met. We know we’re loved because in John 3:16, God says, “He so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son. ” So, God, in Christ, has already demonstrated His deep love for us through the cross. “I already know that” we may say, “so why do I still struggle so?” Because, in reality, we don’t believe the cross was a demonstration of God’s sacrificial love for us, but rather a small token of His parental affection. When we begin to turn around (repent) and embrace the cross as sweet grace because we deserved death, then we begin to somehow comprehend the complete love God has for us. The kind of complete love only He can meet. Yes, we want to be loved by people, but that kind of love will never still our soul. We were created to have our primary relationship with God, and He knew the kind of love that would satisfy that relationship.

God also created us with a need to know our lives have purpose. We know we have purpose because of II Corinthians 5:19-20, where Paul writes, “And He (God) has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are, therefore, Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.” God knows exactly what he created us for (ultimately for fellowship with Him) , and because of that He has given us a mission….to be representatives for Him to others as He is gathering a kingdom for eternity, and He is using you, in Christ, to get it done. (He didn’t need us to get it done, but He chose us.) What a purpose that gives you to get out of bed everyday! There is a reason you live. Think about it: If the only outcome of the cross was to get you saved, then you’d be in heaven right now. Yes, the cross accomplished your salvation, but God has designed your life on earth to mean something!

So, if our God-designed need for love and purpose have already been met by God, how can we reframe our perceived needs? You know….that longing for something to change, that relationship that hasn’t happened, that idea that fights with your flesh?…. You can change your “need filter” by keeping your perceived need as a desire, not a need. Remember, a desire is a want, not a need. There’s nothing wrong with wanting something, as long as it’s kept in proper perspective.

I have heard my single clients say, “I need a spouse. My life just won’t be full until I have one. ” I hear married clients say, “We need children. We could never feel complete until we have some. ” I often have heard clients say, “I need for so-and-so to change, because if they don’t, I’ll see my life as being pretty empty.” Those things are how you feel, understandably. (These things are different than saying, “I need a job. ” When someone needs a job, that’s a bona fide financial need.) But, when you say I need for a relationship to change in order to be happy, then you’ve sifted that idea through a distorted filter. You’ve put your need for a personal change in the relationship into a new category (I do this all the time). Likewise, when we say our lives will be empty, or our lives will be lacking completeness or fullness, we’ve given that perceived need a new status…. it’s called an idol. We’ve given that perceived need the power to give us life. We worship it. We serve it. We live for it. (I’ll expand on idolatry in a future post. )

Here’s a principle that should help all of us determine the bottom line as to whether something is a real need: Purpose always determines need. If your purpose is to build a wall, then your need would be determined by the job’s purpose….wood, nails, hammer, level, etc. That’s what you’d need in your toolbox. If your task (purpose) was to mop the floor, then you’d need a mop, a bucket, water and soap. The purpose of the job determines what you need for the job. The purpose of your life determines what you need for living life to the fullest.

So, if God’s job (mission) for you is to be an ambassador for Him, as He’s using you to build His kingdom, what do you really need? Shoes? A spouse? A child? For someone you love, to change? Of course not! You would need to know that Jesus loves you which He has demonstrated by dying for you, and that your life has value or purpose which is demonstrated by the very fact that God has already given you a job. Period. End of sentence.

I know I’ve cut to the chase without the fluff. It’s time to Turn Around…. and be encouraged. I’m praying that God, in Christ, is at work in you, as He has been so faithful to work in a mess, like me! Let’s look at life through different glasses, and see that we don’t lack what we really need. And, just so you know, my feet are happy today….I have a new pair of flip- flops that I wanted.

11 thoughts on “Unmet Needs vs Desires: Understanding Them Biblically

  1. My wants sometimes consume me so that I feel like they are needs! Thank you putting it in perspective for me, Janice,


  2. I really Love shoes! Thanks for the inspirational words. I struggle with want VS need.


  3. I am glad you are blogging! I always enjoy reading your blogs. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.


  4. I agree with Kristin! Love reading your blog…. it’s like a mini counseling session reminding me of what I didn’t even know I needed to be reminded of!


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