Strong or Needy?

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Annie S. Hawks was 37 years old when she wrote the hymn, “I Need Thee Every Hour” in 1872. I have sung it since childhood. I don’t remember how I felt about it then, but I know that it is a song that has touched my heart at every age since I became an adult. I really do need Him every hour. These are the words:

I need Thee ev’ry hour,
Most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine
Can peace afford.

I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Ev’ry hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee ev’ry hour,
Stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their pow’r
When Thou art nigh. [Refrain]

I need Thee ev’ry hour,
In joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide,
Or life is vain. [Refrain]

Some people make us feel that we must be strong every hour, but I believe that the people who are strongest in God’s service are the ones who know they are needy. God can use those people.

We can actually be strong and needy at the same time. In fact, I believe that is the best way to be—strong in faith, strong in commitment, strong in conviction—while at the same time knowing that we desperately need God and we need His other children.

Jesus gave us a powerful example of this in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was strong in His faith and ready to do whatever God told Him to do at the same time that He was pouring out His heart to God and asking that He would not have to do what He was about to have to do. Jesus needed God then, and He needed His friends. Sadly, His friends fell asleep.

Our children need us to demonstrate how to be strong and needy. They also need us to show that it is okay to be both. We can praise them for the strength they demonstrate and be ready to welcome them into our hearts and arms when they are in need. It pains me to hear a parent tell a child who is genuinely upset to stop crying or that “Big boys don’t cry” or “You’re too big to cry.”

Lithograph, “The Sailor’s Farewell” by Grozelier, Leopold. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution, Harry T. Peters “America on Stone” Lithography Collection, 1856.

Many people are very uncomfortable when other people cry or reveal their neediness. I believe God is pleased when we can show those things. It’s possible that people who seem to be strong all the time are really too proud to show their need. Sometimes tears and expressions of need are very humble things.

Jesus wasn’t afraid to show His great need. We shouldn’t be either. We should let our children know that it is okay to be in need and to seek comfort from God and from their parents.

In the days of His humanity, 
He offered up both prayers and pleas
with loud crying and tears
to the One able to save Him from death,
and He was heard because of His devout behavior. 
Although He was a Son,
He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. 
And having been perfected,
He became the source of eternal salvation
for all those who obey Him . . .
Hebrews 5:7-9


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