Standing at five feet, zero inches, I'm an easy person to miss. At age 30, I get lost in a crowd of elementary school students and am often jokingly used as an armrest by friends. Beyond being physically unseen, I often feel unnoticed as a person overall. I struggle with anxiety, depression, and loneliness that can last for months at a time, and sometimes I wonder if God notices my pain or if there are more important people that He addresses instead. All of us have needs–that is part of what it is to be human. We need food, water, and shelter, but we also need friendship, love, and acceptance. It rarely feels like we have all that we require, much less all we desire. Where does God fit into this? Are we supposed to fill all of our own needs, or could there be another way?
Over two thousand years ago, the people of Judah struggled with the same question in the book of Malachi. Malachi tells us about God's chosen people, from the line of Abraham, who should have been different from the rest of the world. They had God's law and His presence, so many would assume that this society would be filled with happy people lacking in nothing. And yet, many people in Judah did not have all they needed. There were widows and orphans who were hungry and without resources. There were women whose husbands were divorcing them without just cause, forcing them out into a world where they likely would not find another husband or respectable job to provide for them. Everywhere you looked, there was injustice and inequality.
Many of the people of Judah questioned why God allowed this to happen. Malachi, the prophet, revealed to them, "Judah has acted treacherously, and a detestable act has been done in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the Lord's sanctuary, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god" (Malachi 2:11). The cause of pain in Judah was not God but the people themselves. Their selfishness and sin led to the people failing to give properly to the temple, so the lowly of their society lacked basic necessities that the temple often provided for them. Furthermore, the men's lust and greed led to their wives' abandonment and lack of love.
Many of us are prone to blame God when our circumstances are poor. We cannot understand why God would not give us all we need. When we are lacking, we often feel abandoned by Him. The truth is that sin, not God, often causes our unmet needs. Sometimes the sins of others have negative consequences on our lives, such as the selfishness of Judah in keeping their own money rather than giving some of it to the temple to distribute to the widows and orphans. Sometimes, our struggles come from our own sin. We fail to trust in God's provision, so we become overwhelmed and anxious trying to provide for ourselves. Oftentimes, the failures of others and ourselves are the roots of unmet needs in our world.
Yet, God promises the people of Judah, "I have loved you" (Malachi 1:2). He saw the hurt and neglect of the women and children and stepped in to bring justice and relief. God commanded the people of Judah to pay a proper tithe so that the widows and orphans could survive and demanded the men to remain faithful to their wives. Because they hadn't kept this command, Judah was suffering under a curse (Malachi 3:9). Yet, God saw the needs of His people, especially those others cast aside, and took action to fill them. He promised that if they returned to the Lord and His commands, He would bless them (Malachi 3:10–12).
Because of their sinful nature, the people of Judah would fail in their obedience yet again. But God hadn't forgotten His people. He saw their needs when the rest of society ignored them, and He had a plan of redemption in mind.
Four hundred years later, God would move again to ensure that His people would have all they needed. This time, He would send His Son, Jesus, into the world to die on the cross for our sins. He filled our biggest need by paying our debt so that we could be with Him forever. This is a God who steps into needs, not one who runs away from them.
Jesus defeated sin and death and promised to return one day to free us from all death, sadness, and disease forever (Revelation 21:4). Jesus knows our needs, He sees the injustice of the world, and He moves to provide and mend. As we wait for Jesus to return one day, we will struggle with unmet needs. Yet, we can trust that someday all of our needs will be met in Him. Let us sit and wait on God, who is the only One who can truly fill our needs, and trust that one day we will sit by His side, free of all pain and hurt forever.