The Necessity of Need
There might not be a more counter-cultural thing to do in the United States than to admit you are in need. It goes against our nation’s rugged, individualistic ideals. We celebrate “self-made” men and women. We champion the “rags to riches” stories of people who worked hard and made themselves into something. Sometimes, those who genuinely need help will couch their requests with “I’m not looking for a handout.” Even when we ask for help, we don’t really want to ask for help.
When it comes to God, however, need is a good thing. Scripture is full of stories like the blind beggar Bartimaeus in Mark 12:
46 And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
Here was a man who had nothing to offer but cried out for Jesus to have mercy on him. Others rebuked Bartimaeus for having the audacity to bother a very busy and very important Jesus. Culturally speaking, Bartimaeus was not worth anyone’s time, let alone the Son of David.
But Bartimaeus knew he had a need and was not about to let the opportunity pass–not when he knew Jesus could restore his sight. His story reminds me of Psalm 34:6, where David joyfully recounts:
“This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.”
God has always invited us to admit our need and cry to him for help. He healed Bartimaeus and he rescued David, and he promises to hear our cries as well.
In a need-averse culture, the gospel is offensive. It starts with the assumption that we are in need. The gospel says we’ve sinned and we need a Savior. It says we’ve rebelled and need reconciled. It says we’re lost and need to be found, orphaned and need a family, blind and need true sight.
When everything around us tells us that we shouldn’t need any kind of help, God reminds us through his Word that we start from a place of need and that is a good thing – because he meets our need in Jesus. It does a blind man no good to pretend he isn’t desperate for help. In the same way, we must admit our need to God so that he can give us the life we so desperately want.
So, my brothers and sisters, let us be quick to admit–to God and to others–that we are needy people. We don’t have to try to appear put together and well-off. We can admit our struggles, our lack of faith, and our sins. Jesus is faithful to forgive, and the community of the Church is there to encourage us. Admitting our need might be the most radical thing we can do to show the world how great Jesus is.