Poverty brings us to a place of need. An impoverished state, whether physically, emotionally, spiritually, or materially, speaks of a great need. Need drives people to hold on to anything that could sustain and provide comfort and solution. Such condition may be shunned or even bring shame to many, but being poor has its purpose. It trains us the value of reliance and that we are never our own gods and never in control of life.
I grew up in a family with parents who are middle income earners. My Papang and Mamang were both public school teachers. They were sickly too because both of them suffered from bronchial asthma. Their sickness demanded huge expenses in medicines and my mother was intermittently being admitted to the hospital. I am an only child, though, they were able to provide the basic needs, we did experience lack of material things and even choosing a course to take in college meant enrolling in a course which they found affordable to pay for. I did not experience bounty in many things but I also had not experience a time when we had nothing to eat. This is the life of a middle income family. We are somewhere in between but with some touch of experience of what poverty means.
That is my life, but not with so many others around us and around the world. Many do not have enough food on the table or a warm house to sleep in. It affects not only our own life but even the nation as a whole. People’s state of living in a country influences economic progress. But there is also the poverty of the mind and of the spirit that also ravish people around the world. God cares for all of these. Whatever kind of poverty we experience, God sees our needs and He provides.
“Don’t seek what you will eat or what you will drink; neither be anxious. For the nations of the world seek after all of these things, but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek God’s Kingdom, and all these things will be added to you.”– Luke 12:29-31 (WEB)
God delights to bless His people. Ever since God created us, His will is to bless us with a life of joy and abundance. Though, this picture of joy and abundance may run a course that is different from our earthly understanding for God do not mean that to be an eternal bliss of material abundance. God is concerned with everything in our life but He gives prime importance in the immaterial and the eternal. Our character and our soul are precious to God that He would always lead us to a path that enriches, trains, and blesses our way of thinking to be more like Him even when it means that we could go through troubles, trials, and difficulties in life.
The truth that God’s will is to bless us through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, meant that He is a Father who is ready to hear our cries. When we are strickened by poverty in flesh or spirit, who do we call for help?
The people of Israel experienced both kinds of poverty — material poverty and spiritual poverty. Once again, the people sinned against God and God handed them over to the Midianites (Joshua 6). The people who did not turn to God in their poor spiritual state and who could not even feel and realize how destitute their condition was before God after serving and worshipping the god of the Amorites, suddenly felt the need to cry out to God only when they were materially miserable. They were driven to utter poverty that everything they had, food and livestocks, were all plundered and destroyed by the Midianites. So, they cried out to God for help again (Judges 6:7).
“They encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, until you come to Gaza. They left no sustenance in Israel, and no sheep, ox, or donkey. For they came up with their livestock and their tents. They came in as locusts for multitude. Both they and their camels were without number; and they came into the land to destroy it. Israel was brought very low because of Midian; and the children of Israel cried to Yahweh.”– Judges 6:4-6 (WEB)
We could see how human thinking works in this situation. Many times, we could be more concerned of the material prosperity and status than our very own miserable state of disobedience to God. It is not that God cares more for one than the other. He is our mighty and loving Father who cares for our life both physically and spiritually. All these matter to Him. He saves and provides out of His good will for us. But, we should be renewed in our minds and we should be setting our minds on things that are above and not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2) for eternal things have greater consequences and they are lasting than the material possessions we have.
Truly, poverty drives us to cry for help. May every form of poverty drives us to call to God for help. In this we could also realize the kind of love and mercy God gives to those who cry to Him for help. The sinful Israel received God’s painful rebuke.
“Yahweh, the God of Israel, says, ‘I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you out of the house of bondage. I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out from before you, and gave you their land. I said to you, “I am Yahweh your God. You shall not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.” But you have not listened to my voice.’ ”– Judges 6:8-10 (WEB)
Isn’t that when we are in our lowest state, in our most impoverished state as Israel had been during the oppression of Medianites, that we are convicted of God and corrected by Him through His Spirit? God uses miserable situation to remind us and teach us His ways. Yet, at the same time, He does not leave us alone or leave us without help. He answers our cry and helps us in ways we could not even fully understand. For Israel, He heard their cries of help and again sent another judge to help them (Judges 6:7-14).
God does not turn away His face to those who cry to Him in surrender. His will is to bless and He delights in blessing His children. But, may we call to God not only when we are driven by misery of lack in material prosperity but much more when our souls are poverty-strickened and in need of a Savior who will redeem and renew us. Anything we lack, God shall provide. He is our Father, who supplies all things we need, but we should seek Him first, make Him our personal Shepherd, and all things shall be added unto us (Matthew 6:33).
“Yahweh is my shepherd; I shall lack nothing.”– Psalms 23:1 (WEB)