I have all that I need…
I have all that I need. I lack nothing.
Or more traditionally, I shall not want.
What does it mean to want for or lack nothing?
Of course we know that this cannot mean that we get everything our hearts might desire. Nowhere does God promise health and wealth if we follow him, and if we say otherwise, we have missed some fairly crucial parts of the Bible – the parts where Jesus talks about following him as “taking up your cross”. The parts about Job, and Jeremiah, and the martyred believers… In human terms, following Christ, our good shepherd, often means lacking. A lot.
I recently read of missionaries who are asking for help to buy a new car. Not because they want to show off the latest flashy model, but because they need something half-reliable to enable them to do the miles required by their work.
I know many guys and girls – and indeed once was one of them – who would love to be married, but because they believe that God wants them to be with another believer, have remained single for much longer than they would have liked.
There are those who face ridicule, or even, in some parts of our world, very real danger because of their faith. Those who give up high-flying careers because they believe their God-given family, or a calling to full time ministry, or their integrity, must come first.
All of these people want something, or lack something that they could otherwise have had if it weren’t for their faith-journey. Following the Good Shepherd has a cost.
Lydia Brownback, in her excellent book Contentment, says the following about lack:
“Hard as it is to embrace, the truth is that Christ is far more evident in how we handle our lack than in how we handle our gain. If we are willing to suffer for this purpose – as ambassadors for Christ – we are going to find contentment in it.”
How we handle our lack…
So it’s not that we won’t want for anything if we follow Christ. But rather David is speaking about contentment. If we are trusting our shepherd, following him, and if he is truly all that we need, then no matter our circumstances, we’ll be content.
I once heard this very helpful description of an idol: it’s anything that we think we need in order to be happy. I’d be happy… if I just got this promotion. If I could only get married. If I could buy that nicer house. If I go on this holiday. But none of these will bring lasting contentment.
Nothing else will ever truly satisfy. You get money, you’ll probably want more. Your new car, watch, designer coat will be out of date in a few months. You’ll find that you married a flawed human being who might bring great happiness but also, sometimes, great frustration! And you’ll certainly not be happy if you hide your faith in order to fit in at work.
So, then, seeking happiness in anything other than God is idolatry. Secondly, these things are fleeting, fickle and therefore it’s foolish to expect them to satisfy.
True contentment is only found in our relationship with Christ. A contentment that is not dependent on how we might feel today. On what our circumstances are or what our hormones are doing. Christ is all we truly need. We might use that word need about many things, but in reality, it only applies to Christ.
And never is this more clearly seen than when everything else is stripped away from someone, and yet still their hope is in him.
As Jeremy Riddle says in his song The Lord is my Shepherd: I’m only satisfied in you.
And Shane and Shane, in their song Though You Slay Me, sing: Though you ruin me, yet I will worship – sing a song to the One who’s all I need.
We need to whisper words like these over our jealousy and ambition, and shout them over our loneliness and fears.
I’m only satisfied in Christ.
I will sing a song to the one who’s
The Lord is my Shepherd, and I need NOTHING else for all the days of my life, but his love, guidance, protection and salvation. Nothing.
I lack nothing.