At some stage of your education, you probably encountered Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow depicted human needs as a pyramid, with our basic needs for food, shelter, safety and security as the base of the pyramid, our psychological needs for love, belonging and esteem in the middle, and our self-actualization needs for achieving our full potential at the top.
There may be a parallel with our spiritual needs, with faith as the essential foundation upon which the others – trust, hope, peace, love and joy – build.
The fullness of faith is a complete trust in Jesus. It is a very good thing to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died and rose from the dead for our salvation. But we are called not only to believe but to surrender every part of our lives to Jesus, to trust in Him completely and to give ourselves to Him completely, just as He gave everything He had for us. As our faith deepens, we grow in trust, and as we grow in trust, our hope becomes more and more secure.
This is the hope Saint Paul speaks of in his letter to the Romans:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access [by faith] to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)
The fruit of hope is peace. When we trust in Jesus completely, our hope is secure; and when our hope is secure, when we trust in our hearts the words that the Holy Spirit revealed to Julian of Norwich – “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well” – then we can have the peace in our hearts that Christ shared with His apostles on the evening of the first Easter.
Jesus desires for us to have this peace, and knows that without this peace we will often fall into sin. He frequently warns His followers to guard against anxiety (see Matthew 6:25-34), because He knows when we are anxious, when our focus is inward, we can’t respond to others with the self-giving love He calls us to.
Trusting in Jesus, filled with hope and with peace in our hearts, we will be able to share with the world His self-giving love. Indeed, it will so radiate from our hearts that we will not be able to contain it. The fruit of this love is joy. And in this love we shall know His joy, and our joy will be complete.
“Julian of Norwich understood the central message for spiritual life: God is love and it is only if one opens oneself to this love, totally and with total trust, and lets it become one’s sole guide in life, that all things are transfigured, true peace and true joy found and one is able to radiate it.”
Recent studies on Maslow’s work have found that the hierarchy of needs may not be a hierarchy at all, for we need them all and can have higher ones like purpose and meaning even if we are hungry. Maybe the spiritual needs I’ve outlined are similar, although I think faith and trust are the necessary bedrock without which our hope, our peace, our love, and our joy will all be built on sand.
Image: Hebrews 11:1 (downloaded from dailyverses.net).