It’s an interesting word… One with not the most positive of connotations in our culture.
No one ever wants to be “the needy girlfriend” or “the needy child.” To have it said about you that ‘you’re so needy’ probably doesn’t leave you walking away with a ton of confidence.
Desperate is another word like that… perhaps with even a worse reputation. Okay, you have have some needs, but to be desperate makes you crazy.
In reality though, we are SO desperately needy. It only takes one glance through a newspaper or Internet news feed to see how much our world is messy and hurting and, well, in need. At some point I heard a sermon that left the words “desperate” and “needy” echoing through my soul. These were the three truths shared about being ‘poor in spirit’ from the first beattitude:
- I have absolutely nothing.
- I have no power to change.
- I must trust God to act.
When I look at my life or the world around me it can be easy to despair at the poverty (of any kind), violence, disrespect, war, hatred and more. In a word: sin. Oh I can try to think I’m so much better than “those awful people” whoever they may be, but the reality is I’m just as messed up as anyone else. I have just as much potential for hatred and violence than anyone. I am just as tempted to wander away from truth as the next guy. I mess up every single day and on my own there’s nothing I can do about it. The definition of “poor” seems to apply: destitute, needy, lacking, reduced to begging.
What’s so amazing about this beattitude though is that our neediness isn’t repulsive to God. Rather He tells us that’s exactly where He is found.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 5:3
This has echoes of one of my other favorite verses:
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
Or as Romans 5:6 puts it:
“While we utterly helpless, Christ came…”
It’s true God is not repulsed by our desperate need, but rather it’s in the midst of that where He draws near. He pours out his mercy and grace. He sends His Spirit to revive and restore us. He holds on to us and reminds us to not despair or run from our neediness but rather to remember He put that dependent heart in us so that we would look to Him to fulfill every need we can’t fill on our own.
Lord, we realize how poor and needy and desperate we are and that we don’t have any power on our own to change. So we trust You to act and praise You that You already have in Your Son Jesus. In His Name we pray, Amen!