It sounds a little too spiritual, if you ask me.
Like a white-bearded guru sitting cross-legged on a mountaintop basking in nothing but the company of God: You never know that God is all you need, until God is all you have.
Nice in principle, but down here in the real world, I need food. And friendship. And meaningful work.
I didn’t begin to understand this saying… until recently.
It happened when I began to rely too heavily on one individual to be my source of joy and inspiration and comfort. If you asked me, I would have told you that of course I understood that one person, no matter how special, can ever meet all of our needs all of the time. I thought I knew this, but deep down I apparently did not. And eventually, that relationship shifted like sand beneath my feet.
Then I found out what you do when God is all you have.
You hurt. A lot. And you wonder what people mean when they say God is all you need. You think they must have never felt anything quite like this, because you’re gripping God with two fists and it still feels like half your soul has been ripped away. You’re gripping God with two fists and there is absolutely and undoubtedly something more that you still need.
But you keep hanging on. And then you begin to understand.
At least, that’s how it’s unfolding for me.
“God-is-all-you-need” does not mean that we can live long, productive lives without food, friendship and meaningful work. It doesn’t mean we can live without pain when those we love are no longer with us. In fact, God created us with physical needs and emotional desires. Our bodies are designed to require regular inputs of energy and rest, emotional connectivity, and mental stimulation. ”God knows that you need these things,” Jesus told His disciples.
The catch is in what Jesus said next:
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (See Matthew 6:31-33.)
It’s counterintuitive, but when we seek God first, we allow Him to meet our needs in any way He chooses.
When we need physical affection, God can send someone to give us a hug.
When we need money to cover expenses, God can send someone to offer us a job or provide what we need.
When we need wise counsel, God can send His word through what we read or hear.
He may not use the person we expect, or even the person we want. God doesn’t provide us everything we need from the same person – or the same activity or the same source – all the time. The longer we think we may be the exception to this rule, the more shocking the collapse will be.
We have an amazing capacity for more. It is in the seed of eternity that God has planted in our hearts. It points to our eternal glory with Him. But when that drive for more shifts off its intended focus – God – and onto anything else, then we are blocking God’s intended provision.
“Your Heavenly Father knows that you need all of these things,” Jesus said.
Trust Him to provide for all your needs in His way and in His timing. Actively receive His gifts in whatever way He chooses to send them.
God is all you need, because ultimately, God is all you have. Everything else is simply a gift from Him.
Janet Beagle, Ph.D. serves as director of graduate programs for Purdue University’s College of Engineering and is a writer, a Bible study teacher, and a student of God’s word. In her spare time, she likes to eat other people’s cooking and hike with her dog, Marly, who recently passed away but is not forgotten. Read more of Janet’s Christian reflections at www.mustardpatch.org.