What We Need, Not What We Want

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A great story of friends helping a friend is found in Mark 2:2-5. A man’s friends want their paralyzed buddy to get to see Jesus and get healed. So they dig a hole in the roof of the house where Jesus is teaching. Isn’t it strange that instead of immediately reaching out and healing the paralyzed man, Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven”? Didn’t He see the man’s obvious need, the need for which his friends brought him to Jesus?

Of course Jesus recognized that the man was paralyzed. But He also saw the man’s deeper need: to have his sins forgiven. Jesus healed the need, which was not what the man’s friends had wanted.

In a way, we are all paralyzed—by guilt, anger, greed, despair, loneliness. We tell ourselves, “What I need is a new job, more money or a better spouse. Then my life would be perfect.” We trust those things to save us. In a sense they are our “gods.” We pray and ask Him to give us what we want, not what we need.

But Jesus loves us so much that He will not simply give us what we want. He knows that many of the things we want will not satisfy. They might even ruin us. Lotto winners, for example, have a history of bankruptcy, wasting their wealth on drugs and gambling.

In Jesus’ wisdom and love, He gives us what we need, not necessarily what we want. He gives us spiritual restoration through the One who satisfies and who forgives when we fail Him. When we look to Jesus, let’s appreciate His gifts in this light…

This biblical story does has a happy ending. Mark 2:10-11 tells us, “Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!’”

Jim Vogelzang