One night a few months ago I sat down with the little man to say prayers before he went to bed, and after some end-of-the-day observations – including but not limited to a declaration of the deliciousness of a Zaxby’s Nibbler as well as the mad survival skillz of Bear Grylls – he bowed his head.
“Lord,” he began, “thank you for this good day. Thank you for our family.” He continued with some specific requests, and right before he ended his prayer, he said, “we pray for Sharon and Wilter, and God, we pray for the needing.”
At that point I almost put my hand over his and said, “Oh, buddy – I think you meant needy, not needing.”
But before I could lift so much as a finger, it hit me: he’s exactly right.
After we finished praying, I walked out of A’s room with tears in my eyes. He had no idea, of course, but he’d given me the words to articulate something that had been weighing heavy in my head and on my heart:
This world is full of needing.
And that needing? It overwhelms.
We’re surrounded by people who are needing; they need comfort, they need healing, they need helping, they need peace. In the last week I’ve talked with friends who are struggling in their jobs, in their marriages, and in their families (it’s not like I’ve been sitting on a bench and holding a sign that says, “TELL ME YOUR PROBLEMS,” by the way – this is just real-life stuff that comes up in conversations). Today, in fact, I visited with a friend who’s facing a long-term illness. And the needing certainly isn’t confined to other people; we’ve been fighting a few unexpected battles in my own family lately. I know all too well that as much as you remind yourself of John 16:33, John 14:27, Romans 8:28, and countless other passages – as much as you rest in the Truth – the needing can still be discouraging. It can wear you slap out if you let it.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about God’s sweetness to us in those seasons of needing. Maybe it’s a phone call at just the right time; maybe it’s a divine appointment with someone who has experienced similar circumstances. If we pay attention, we’ll see evidence that not only is God with us – He is for us. He’s writing a story way bigger than any of our circumstances, and He’s using the needing for our good and for His great glory. Scripture makes that very clear (and oh have mercy do I ever cling to that assurance sometimes).
This week in Tanzania the Compassion bloggers have witnessed the needing in ways they probably never imagined. I love that Compassion provides a way that we can stand in the gap for families and connect them to a local church that will help meet their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. They will hear the Gospel. Many of them will come to know the Lord. And when they walk through an unexpected time of needing – above and beyond their day-to-day challenges – they’ll have a local body of believers who will walk with them and pray for them. If not for Compassion, they might never know that kind of comfort. They might never know that kind of community.
As for us – the folks in the land of high-speed Internet, air conditioning, and telephones that act as our personal assistants (though I should probably point out that, as best I can tell, Siri does not speak Southern) – life looks a little bit different, at least on the surface. We live in a land of indulgence and convenience, and sometimes our struggles stem from impatience as much as anything else. But at the end of the day, our deep-down needing is what connects us to our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world, to men and women we’ve never met, to mothers and fathers who, like us, lose sleep over sick children, who worry about making ends meet, who hurt when relationships fracture.
I don’t know how to say this in a way that’s particularly eloquent, so I’ll just say it like I hear it in my heart: let’s tend to the needing today. Maybe that means we’ll encourage somebody we love. Maybe that means we’ll sponsor a child who lives thousands of miles away. Maybe that means we’ll take time to intercede for somebody who shares a prayer request. Maybe that means we’ll mend some fences.
But this much I know for sure: the needing is all around us, sweet friends.
Let’s love each other well.