Getting our needs met in God
This topic sprang up as a sub-thread in Wendell’s second post A Journey Through the Pornography Sinkhole but it seemed so important I have shifted it from there into a post on its own.
Here is the quote from Wendell’s post that sparked a question from Katy, one of our readers:
When we are in denial of our needs and God’s ability to supply them, we begin to try to take on the task ourselves. We begin to fantasize about how we can meet those needs. In the case of porn addiction, the addict thinks he needs sexual gratification (that isn’t his actual need, but it is what he tells himself)
I would like someone to explain how we go about getting our underlying needs met in God. Not necessarily the sexual needs – just in general. I think we are often told that “God meets all of our needs if we ask” – but I never hear any specifics. For instance, in my group of single moms, we talk about managing our lives and facing life-long singleness. I had an older widow tell me “God will be your husband”. But I have no clue what that means in a practical sense. Christians tend to say that stuff to each other, because we get it from scriptures, but then the practical application is often left hanging in the air. For those of us who have never had a real husband, but we are raising children alone and we’re the breadwinners and everything else — what does that mean? I don’t think I’m facing any addictions in my life due to unmet needs, however I do face loneliness and fear of the future. Just curious if anyone has any concrete experience of this “God will meet your emotional/spiritual/psychological needs” idea… maybe he just uses our friends to come alongside us for encouragement?
Jeff S answered:
Katy, this is an awesome question, and one I identify with because I am right there with you in so many respects.
“I feel lonely”
“Well that’s proof you aren’t trusting in God enough”.
“Ok, so what do I do to trust him more?”
“Pray and seek first his kingdom”.
“Ok, but I still feel lonely”.
“You need to repent of the sin in your life”.
And so we stop talking about it. I think this is one reason singles get crushed in the church. They get labeled as idolaters if they desire a relationship, but then the church does everything to remind them that they aren’t experiencing life to the fullest without a mate.
I have more thoughts on this, but I’ll have to have a little more time to expound.
And then I (Barb) chimed in:
Katy I had that said to me too; when I told a married Christian woman who I thought was my friend, that I felt lonely and wanted a husband, she replied (retorted?) I should be able to have all my needs met in God. I felt hurt. And I told her so. And she then kinda backed down and apologised: “I knew that was going to hurt you as I was saying it; I’m sorry.”
It left a bad taste in my mouth.
This woman had been widowed years before, and had a period of singleness in her life before she remarried; but that didn’t seem to give her more empathy.
I think I can say that there have been times in my life when, in crisis, I have called in prayer to God as I might to a husband, and have had an answer to prayer. But isn’t that true of all believers, whatever their marital status? The church after all, is Christ’s bride, and he is Husband to all of us, in that sense.
But as for God being my husband and replacing or removing all my desire for a husband, a real husband who can be my support and companion through day to day life, and I his companion and support … I don’t have anecdotes to tell you of how I have ever experienced that practically.
I think it’s pretty basic and the church often spiritualises it to shuffle off their responsiblity for widows and orphans. Here’s what I think is basic:
1. It is not good for man (or woman) to be alone.
Marriage – good marriage – is better for most adults than singleness. Singleness is okay for some, or maybe for some at some stages of their lives.
2. Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27, ASV)
The church is supposed to proactively care for and embrace single parents and their children, and Christians should take especial care not to operate from sinful or selfish motives when caring for such vulnerable people.
And readers of this blog are pretty aware of how the church often fails to heed this precept from James’s epistle. I don’t need to elaborate, except to say that my word study of the Greek and Hebrew words for ‘widow’ show they simply mean ‘woman bereft of a husband’ – bereft for any reason, not just the death of the husband. For male single parents such as Jeff S and FriendinNeed, I guess they have to invert the genders as appropriate.
I have been pretty content with being single in the last year, but lest you think I’m crowing about this, be assured that I never felt content with being single in all the years I was a single mum raising my daughter. I think my present contentment is largely because I am so wrapped up in writing and blogging and I get such satisfaction from this work that it fulfills me, and I’m not sure even I would have time for a husband in my life. So maybe I am (finally) one of the lucky ones who is ‘called’ to singleness, as Paul describes. But I am sure that ‘call’ has only been effectual recently. It wasn’t there in my forties.