Is it a Want or a Need? God is Gracious and Merciful

And my God
Will meet all your needs
According to the riches of his glory
In Christ Jesus
 Philippians 4:19 NIV
What an amazing promise God gives us in this verse! He promises to meet all of our needs. It is in the Bible, it is truth. If only it was that easy to take him at his word.
If I am honest, I have to admit that I have a love, hate relationship with this verse. I love the truth it tells of the loving Father taking care of his child. I hate that it exposes my selfishness and misunderstanding of this verse.

Wants vs. Needs

I, on more than one occasion, have confused my wants with my needs. Sometimes, I am convinced that I that something falls into the need category. And, then God in his wisdom exposes my true motives. He shows me that this is not a need it is a want. Like any good parent, God does not give me all my wants. He knows that would turn me into a spoiled brat. His goal is to conform me into the image of his son. Unfortunately, my first reaction is throwing a temper tantrum like a two-year-old.

It can get even worse if God has said “no” or “wait” to something I feel I need and then gives it to someone else. Oh, my, then the green monster of envy comes out! I was 31 when I got married. I was the last one of my group of friends to get married. I had been praying for a husband since I was 19. It wasn’t fair! I complained, cried and felt like God had forgotten me. Now, after 26 years of marriage, I understand that neither my husband or I would have been ready any sooner. There was also the small matter of logistics. The United States Air Force needed to transfer him to where I was living. God knew the plan and it was good.

Is it a Want or a Need?

God has also been teaching me that hard way that some things I believe are needs aren’t. They are wants of the first world American Christian. This one has been a hard one. Our culture teaches us to expect certain standards as the norm. There is nothing wrong with that for the most part. I ran into trouble with this.  
A few summers ago, our central air conditioning unit died a slow and expensive death. Our repairman attended our church, we trusted him. He told us that it was time to replace the outside unit to the tune of many thousands of dollars. This was not in the budget. We went without any air conditioning for about a week in the late summer. In South Texas, in August the high temperatures can reach 100 F and lows about 75 F. It was miserable. God in his wisdom reminded me that this is how most of the world lives today. Air conditioning is a luxury, not a necessity.
God was gracious, he taught me about the concept first world wants vs true needs. And then we were able to install several window air conditioner units. The house now cools better than before. And our electric bill is cheaper than when we were running the dying central unit. It was a blessing I did not see when I was busy whining.
The dishwasher is an ongoing lesson. I don’t understand yet how this fits with wants vs. needs.  I despise washing dishes by hand! It is one of my most hated household chores. In the past few years, we have several poorly working dishwashers or dead dishwashers. About 15 months ago, we bit the bullet and bought a new dishwasher. Husband wanted to buy a moderately priced one. I had been researching them and found a higher price one that had excellent reviews. I found it on sale for a little more than we had planned to spend. Husband agreed to my choice and we brought it home. It worked great for a few months and then… It is the worst appliance I have ever owned. In the 15 months that we have owned it, we have had a repairman out 10 times. They have replaced every part, some twice. The company will not replace the unit.
I can’t tell you of any great spiritual insights gained from the dishwasher. There haven’t been any. I am still wrestling with God with this one. There are still tears, frustrations, and grumbling. But, I know that Romans 8:28 is true. It says: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.” So if you keep reading this blog, one day I will be able to tell you how it worked for good. But, today, I am not there. And I am not sure if the dishwasher was a want or a need. Does it matter? I am not sure.

Walking out the Truth of this Verse

I wish I could give you some words of wisdom or some great spiritual truths to hang your hat on about this verse. I can’t. I am learning like you are. What I do know is that the Word is true. He provides for our needs. He is a loving Father and to do anything less would be out of character for him. You and I get things all messed up in our heads about what are wants or needs. We think God should be like Santa Claus and give us everything we want. But that is not in our best interest. And then we throw a tantrum and pout like a toddler. 
I am working this out day by day. But I don’t doubt that he loves me. His grace is sufficient. And his mercies are new every morning.
What about you? How do you deal with the issue of wants vs. needs? I would love to hear your thoughts. Let me know in the comment section.

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