Charles Stanley - Why Our Needs Remain Unmet?
How often have you carried your needs to the Lord in prayer and asked Him to meet some specific need in your life and yet, He didn't meet it? How did you respond when that need remained unmet? Did you question the fact that when He said He'd meet all of our needs that He didn't really mean all of them? Did you doubt the fact that God would just answer your prayer any longer? Or did you get angry with God and just say, "Well, Lord, you know, just forget it if You're not gonna meet my need, then I'll do something else". Or did you look within yourself to ask yourself the question, "God, why is it that my need is not being met"?
You see the truth is God delights in meeting our need. He desires to meet all of our needs. Well, if He does then why doesn't He? Why is it that God seemingly does not meet all of our needs? So that's what I want to talk about in this message and that is "Why Our Needs Remain Unmet". You'll recall we've been talking about the passage of Scripture in Philippians chapter four when he said, "My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus". Now with that in mind, with all these promises, the very life of Jesus Christ Himself, somebody says, "Well, but I have needs and my needs are not being met. Why isn't He meeting my particular needs"?
So that's what I want to talk about in this passage, and so, I want us to think about something for a moment and that is when we think in terms of the fact that He desires to meet our needs and we ask ourselves the question, why doesn't He? Well, let's look at some very evident reasons He doesn't, then let's look at the big major reason that I want to talk about. Certainly, one of the reasons He doesn't meet our needs is because He warns us of this in James chapter two when He says, "You have not because you ask not". There are many people who have needs who never think to call upon God. Their excuse is, "Well, God's too busy. Why is He interested in my needs"? Because He says in the Psalms that He will perfect the very thing that concerns us. He'll meet all of our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Therefore, we should ask Him, we should come to Him and say, "God, this is the need of my life. I'm trusting You". Therefore, He says one of the reasons our needs aren't met, we don't ask it. In the next verse in that fourth chapter, the third verse, he says a second reason your needs are not met is because you ask, he says, with the wrong motive. You ask with a selfish motive, you're not asking that in a way that would be pleasing and honorable to God, but a very selfish motive. So he says therefore, not gonna meet it for that reason. The third reason he says in James chapter one, he says because if you and I come to Him doubting. We come to Him doubting, He says let not that man or woman who doubts, who wavers in their faith expect to receive anything from God.
So therefore, one of the reasons He doesn't meet our needs is because we doubt Him, we don't ask, or we ask amiss. One of the primary reasons He doesn't meet our needs because we have sin in our life. He says that He, listen, if we regard iniquity in our heart, He'll not hear us, which is His way of saying, "If I hold onto it, deliberately, willfully choose to sin," the sixty-sixth Psalm, eighteenth verse, "deliberately, willfully choose to sin against Him, He says He will not hear us". And then of course, I think one other way, and the primary thing that I want to deal with here is the fact that we want to do it our way. And so if I want to do it my way and I want to get my needs met my way, then God isn't going to interfere, often times, I wouldn't say always. He's not gonna interfere. If I think I know how to do it best, God's gonna let me make a mess of it until I come to the conclusion, "God, I need You to meet this need in my life".
Now, that's the way often times we choose to get our needs met and they are the reasons, it doesn't happen. And so, we want to blame God. And sometimes we get angry with God, "Lord, You're not answering my prayer. You said You'd answer my prayer but somehow You don't". Now, with that in mind, let's remember this, that when you and I grew up, we experienced all kinds of things. We came, many people came from families where they felt rejected, where they felt abandoned. They felt hurt, they felt pain, they did not feel a sense of worthiness because they were told you'll never amount to anything. They didn't feel very competent because they were told, "You can't do that. Why do you, why do you think you can do this"? They certainly didn't feel they, they belonged because they said, you know, "You were an accident".
And so when you think about all the pain and the hurt and the ignoring that goes on of children. And the kind of rebellion and the kind of, of disobedience that parents get into and neglect their children and overlook their spiritual needs and overlook, often times, their physical and material needs. Children grow up in very difficult circumstances, often times verbally, physically, or sexually abused by their parents. What I want you to see is the helplessness, the hopelessness, the sense of pain, excruciating deep abiding pain that goes on in a child's heart. Or even a teenager's heart, where they have been hurt, deeply, deeply hurt and marred and scarred and yet who's there to give them an answer and explain? Most of the time nobody. So what happens? They have to learn to adapt, learn to cope and so they build these structures.
This is the only way, you see, what they're saying is, "How do I survive"? How do you survive? And every kid grows up figuring out how to survive. But most of the time, ninety-nine percent of the time our methods of survival are not the right way. Now we've talked about how people usually respond. And we've talked about how we look at needs in our life and why God oftentimes does not answer them. But the one that I want us to deal with primarily here is, I want us to talk about this whole idea of trying to meet them our way and what we do. We go about building these structures, building these devices, emotional in our life, in order to help us to survive. Well, what I'd like to do is I'd like to mention several of these to say right up front this is not the way that you deal with needs in your life, those emotional needs that are not being met. This is not the way to do it but this is the way often times we do it.
And so what I'd like to do is to mention several of these and give a brief explanation of them. And then, here's what I want to ask you to do. Now, if you, if you're not willing to do this, then you know what, we're wasting our time. But I believe you are because I think you've already registered in your heart something that somewhere along the way we've hit on something here. And I know we have. What you've gotta decide right now is, "Am I gonna be absolutely honest with myself and with God? Or am I gonna keep trying to fool myself because I don't want the pain". And some time to discover what the real need is and to be willing to deal with it is very painful. It's extremely painful. So I'm just giving you a little warning up front. You can either sit here and deny it and you can sit here and act like it's not happening.
God knows it's happening, God knows the kind of structures that all of us have built. And I'm gonna use myself as the first example because I want you to know if you're not willing to be honest with yourself, you're gonna miss it. And you know what? I don't believe you can afford to miss this. If you want a real sense of contentment and ever experience real joy in your life, and have wonderful loving relationships, you cannot afford to miss what I'm about to say. So if you're listening say amen. All right. What is one of the primary ways we deal with hurt, pain, suffering, excruciating things that have been done to us, abandonment, being ignored? One of the first things we do, we deny it. That's the first structure and probably the most prominent structure we build. We'll just deny it.
Now, if I can cram it, stuff it, and jam it to the point that I can deny that it ever happened, then I don't have to face it. Then I'm not gonna reach out to say to someone else, "I need you to help me". Denial is my way of hiding. Denial is my protection. Denial is a structure I build in my emotional being that says somewhere along the way, if I put this aside long enough that I'm gonna be able to just outgrow this and get over this. You see, denial is a form of control. If I can deny it, then I can control my feelings, I think. And so I will go about in life denying that I even have, I'll just deny the fact that my parents hurt me. I'll deny the fact that I've been embarrassed and shamed back yonder for some reason. I'll just, you know, but you see, now here's what I want you to remember. In your conscious mind you do not say, "I will deny this". It is, listen, remember what we're doing. We are building structures for survival. We're building our defense.
And a child doesn't sit down and say, "I will deny this ever happened". No, what happens is that in a very subconscious, because our pain is such, we cram it, jam it, stuff it, and before long we deny that it even happened. Now here's the tragedy. You can deny something like that so long and become so absolutely totally deceived about your own denial that you will in genuine honesty, you think in your heart say, "It never happened to me. No, that never happened to me, that wasn't, no, I don't know where he got that, that never happened". You can deny it so long that you absolutely become fully convinced that it never happened.
Now I'll give you a personal example in my own life. You've heard me say before that my father died when I was nine months of age. Well, if you had said to me, and I can remember exactly how I felt when, when people would say, "Well, Stanley, where's your father"? My father died when I was about nine months of age and I never knew him. Period, closed conversation, it's over. That's the way I thought. Well, God set me up for something. Because I'd been preaching a long time and one day, one of our secretaries walked in one Sunday, brought her daughter in and wanted me to see her and I'd seen her lots of times before. Brought her in and she said, "She's nine months of age this week".
Well, she reached out to me, I didn't have to reach out, when she saw me, she reached out to me, I took her in my arms and held her and talked to her and sorta fathered her up a little bit, and told her how sweet she was and how wonderful, which she really was and she's grown up to be a grown girl today, she's in college. And so she hugged me a little bit and I hugged her and gave her back to her mom. When she walked out, all of a sudden it hit me. I thought, "She knew me. Nine months of age, I knew my father".
Well, that was on Sunday. So I sorta ignored that and walked away, shove it down. On a Saturday afternoon, I was in the prayer room by myself when we were downtown. And I remember something that happened to me just in a brief moment, just like that. I saw my grandfather and my father sitting on this log out in the woods talking to each other and they were just laughing. And all of a sudden it was just a brief momentary vision. And the only reason I knew it was my father was because I've seen a picture. And they were sitting out in the woods on this, and just laughing and talking. All of a sudden I wanted to get in on that conversation real bad. And it was gone. And I remember what I felt, I felt very angry with God. I just, anger just boiled up inside of me. God! What have You done to me? Why did You take my father away?
Now up until this time, and I'm in my forties now, up until this time here's my answer. It was the will of God, God took Him, end of conversation, end of theology, end of it all. And so what had I been doing? Jamming it, cramming it, stuffing it. Did I do it deliberately? No. Did I do it consciously? No. But you see, I was in a state of denial. What I was denying that it had any effect on me at all. Why? Well, it couldn't have had any effect on me because God did it. That is, if God took him and I was nine months of age and I never knew my father, God did it and this is how, only other way you could reason. God doesn't make any mistakes. God didn't do anything in error. God's in absolute control, so therefore if He did it, that was right, therefore ignore it and move on in life.
The only problem with that is I knew him. At nine months of age I didn't know much but I must have known him. If I could know this little girl that I didn't live with and every once in a while I would see her, and at nine months of age she reaches out to me with this big smile, I wonder how many times did I reach out to my father with a big smile? Well, it was that conversation with that little girl and that incident in the prayer room that God used to bring me to realization I had to deal with something in my life. Because up until this time I had felt God being very distant. Now I could pray, I could trust Him for big things, little things, all the things that were going on in my life I could rejoice about, and yet there was always this distance between God and myself.
Well, He brought me to another experience later on, probably a year or so later, that I began to realize why I had felt all this distance. Because I denied unconsciously, but it was real. And here's what I want you to see. Listen, you can be conscious or unconscious of it. If you do it, the effects are the same. It's not a matter of whether you choose to or not, the effects and the consequences are the same. I could never link up with God in my emotions. Theologically I knew He loved me. I mean, there was no question in my mind about that. But, if you asked me, "Well, do you emotionally feel God's love"? The answer would have had to been no, I don't feel it, now I know He does but I didn't feel it. Why? Because I denied the very fact about my father.
Where do you get your first idea about God? From your earthly father. Well, why was God distant from me? Because my father was gone at the age of nine months, he'd never been there. How was I to supposed to believe that God was this infinite, loving, present Father? Oh, I could tell you theologically and biblically that he was, but in my emotions He wasn't. Now, I say all of that to say this. We can deny things we don't even realize that we've denied 'em. And we think, "Well, they don't have any effect upon us". Yes, they do.
And I want to say this over and over and over again. You don't get healed by osmosis. You don't get healed simply because time goes by. These needs do not begin to be met simply because you have ignored 'em and denied 'em and time goes by. No they don't. They are there and until they're dealt with, the real basic need will not be met and the basic need in my life at that moment was to feel an intimate, personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in my emotions, not just in my theological thinking. God knew that I needed a sense of acceptance by Him, that He unconditionally loved me, none of which were that none of that was a part of my life until He brought me through these three experiences. I did not deliberately deny it. It's just the way I grew up. And I'm saying we build structures in our life that we're not even aware of.
Second structure we build is avoidance. I'm talking about just A-V-O-I-D-A-N-C-E, avoidance. We avoid things. Now, for example, let's say that you have were deeply in love with someone and I mean you just loved them with all your heart. And they just walked away and said, "You know what? I don't love you and I don't want to marry you or whatever it might be". And so I mean you were deeply, deeply hurt. Deeply scarred in your emotions. I mean, you were ripped asunder. You had just given yourself to that person as much as you could before marriage and you were living a godly life and therefore, they just walked away.
Well, what would be the natural, normal structure? Well, what would the little child, what structure would the little child build when the parents walk away? Little child build this structure. "Have to be real careful who I love from now on because if I love somebody else and if I trust someone else, what they gonna do to me? They're gonna do the same thing my mom and my daddy did to me and they're gonna leave me and they're gonna hurt me and I'm not gonna suffer that again so I'm building myself a wall big enough, thick enough, high enough. They are not going to get in". Now, does a child think through that? No. But here's what a child does. In experience after experience, relationship after relationship, what do they do? They just put it up. But that's one of the ways that people deal with those issues.
Then of course there's conformity. For example, here's a child, grows up and that child's got a mind of his own. I mean, he's a good thinker, she's a good thinker and they're creative and they have initiative. And so they want to create, they want to be creative and have the initiative. Sit down and shut up. No you can't. Why do you think you can do that? So what does a child do? A child wilts. They lay down their creativity. They lay down their initiative. They lay down their strengths and they just do what? They just make me like putty and I conform to whatever you want. Well, they grow up and here's what they realize. That's the way they eliminate being rejected. That's the way they eliminate their parents scolding them. That's the way they eliminate being abandoned for periods of time.
Well, that's the way they eliminate having their parents mistreat them. In other words, just conform just like putty. Just fit me into the mold. So what happens? Kid grows up, among his teenage friends, what does he do? He conforms. They're going out, get in all kind of trouble. He conforms. That's way, let's see, you know what? He learned that with his parents. Or she learned that with her parents. He gets into business, and so he still has this creative mind. He has all kinds of ideas that would help the business and help the people around them. He could motivate them but you know what? He knows better than to kick over the beehive. He knows better than to stir up anything. He knows better than to excel. He knows better than to really show his creativity because if he does, he'll be criticized that you're trying to get ahead, you're just showing off.
So what does he do? He just fits into and compromises. None of those are the ways you deal with getting needs met. Every single one of those is, and there are lots and lots of others. All of those are structures, emotional structures we build. And we start building them very early in life in order to survive, in order to be able to face life. And listen, if we don't deal with the structures, we are gonna end up with our whole life never having really and truly having been fulfilled. And listen carefully. The more painful, the more painful those experiences are early in childhood, the thicker and the higher those structures will be and the more difficult it will be to get through them.
Now, the last question's simply this: How do we tear these things down? How do we deal with these structures? First of all we're not blaming anybody for the fact that they started early in life, but we are responsible as adults and we are responsible when we learn what's going on and why it's happening. We are responsible for dealing with them. First thing we do is this. We say:
Lord, here's what I think my need is. Help me to discern the difference between what the symptom is and the real basic need. Lord, is my real need that I feel so rejected? Is my real need that I need to feel, I need to feel accepted and I need to feel a sense of worth. Lord, is my real need a sense of security that's based on the right thing? God help me to be able to discern between the real need and some symptom. Now Father, here's what You said. You said that you would supply all of my needs according to Your riches in glory in Christ Jesus. And therefore, and understanding what this is I believe You're gonna meet my need here. Now Lord, show me the structure, show me the structures that I've used before in dealing with my needs. Have I been one of those persons who just acquiesced to everything around me? Have I used lying? Have I been have I been denying what this real need is? Lord, have I been compromising what I? Have I been angry, have I been projecting on someone else? Lord, what have I been doing trying to deal with these emotional needs?
I'm here to tell you God'll show you what it is. He will show you the structures in your life that you've used before.
Lord, I choose beginning today to tear them down, lay them down. Lord, I'm not lying and I'm not acquiescing anymore. I'm not gonna argue. I'm not gonna project anymore. I'm not denying this anymore. God, I know this is in my life. I know this is a need and Lord I want You to I'm asking You to meet that need. I'm tearing down these walls. I'm not surviving and I'm not building any more defense mechanisms in my life. God, I want You to meet my need Your way and I'm trusting You to do it. Lord, what would You have me to do?
God will answer that prayer every single time because you know what you're doing? You're dealing with the real you. You're coming to grip with a problem that God is aware of. You're coming to grips with a solution that He knows. You're coming to grips with a person, with yourself, that He knows so well. And so you're saying, "I'm laying that down. That's not my way of dealing with my needs any longer. Lord, I'm trusting You". God may say to you, "I want you to go see so and so and talk to him or to her. I want you to seek godly counsel to help lead you through this". God may lead you to someone else or He may show you those structures so clearly that you'll be absolutely amazed. You will want to tear them down. You will want to destroy them because you're gonna want to build godly, intimate relationships in your life. He will answer that prayer.
You do not have to live any longer behind these walls of denial and acquiescence and lying and compromise and arguments and co-dependency, and all of these, and all of these material things that you thought were somehow gonna meet your need. You can lay that down. And you know what'll happen? Listen, when you tear down the walls, you're going to feel emotionally naked. Because you've been so covered for so long. You've hidden so long. You're gonna feel slightly, you're gonna think, "Well now, what are people are gonna think? Are they gonna think that I'm just trying to be nice"? No.
You see, remember, you're dealing with something that's been inside of this mind for yours and inside of your emotions often times for years and years and years and years. And laying that down and tearing it, and tearing it away is like ripping off something that's covered you for a long time. God Almighty, this loving, unconditionally loving Father will, listen, He will be there for you in those moments when you say to Him, "Lord, not living that way anymore. God, I don't want to live that".
Now let me tell you something. It may be real painful. It may be extremely painful for you to say, "You know what? I'm not gonna acquiesce anymore. I'm just gonna have to stand up and say, 'You know what? I don't agree with that. I want to be kind, God. I want to be loving. Show me how to be kind. When I'm having conflict, show me how to be kind. Lord, show me that the person is not rejecting me.'" They may be rejecting my behavior. They may reject something I've done. They may disagree with my attitude. They may reject my attitude, not rejecting me. God, help me to be able to deal with the pain the first few times I have to just stand up for myself and know, Lord, that You're gonna heal me through this.
It can be painful. It can be embarrassing. But you know what? You've gotta decide, do I want to be a whole person? Do I want to be a whole person? Or do I want to go through the rest of my life emotionally crippled because I didn't have the courage to stand up and face the Lord? Here are the walls. Now listen, there's not even an issue about why they got built. That's not the issue. God knows that we come along early in life and we all build 'em. That's not the issue; the issue is:
Here's what it is, and God, I want to lay it down, I want to tear it down, take it away, God, and give me the courage to hurt, to feel the pain, whatever's necessary, but God, above everything else, heal me of my hurts so I can be the godly man and the godly woman, the godly young person, Lord, You want me to be.
And my friend, Almighty loving God will answer that prayer, will meet your needs. This is why I've said this over and over and over again. Building an intimate relationship with Almighty God is such a wonderful foundation for building a relationship with someone else. Open, transparent, all the rest. And so I want to encourage you not to miss next Sunday because the entire message is gonna be "Building an Intimate Relationship with Our Heavenly Father". It's the bottom line. Building a relationship with the Heavenly Father's the bottom line. And I want to encourage you to begin to ask the Lord to show you how to do that.