God's Purpose For Us In The Crisis Of Poverty

By: Amanda Mattingly 0 Comments   10/29/2012

Growing up in a church that was centered on missions, I became aware of poverty around the world at a very young age.

While many of us live in comfortable and familiar environments, millions around the world live amidst impoverished conditions.

Children walk the dirty, dusty streets without a single pair of shoes to protect them from scrapes and disease.

Infants are malnourished and dying every single day simply because their mothers lack access to basic resources they need for survival. Youth and children do not attend school because, instead, they must trek long and grueling hours to fetch water for their families—oftentimes from a water source that is contaminated and serves as the source of water-borne diseases. Men and women alike struggle every single day to bring home enough wages to provide basic necessities for their children or even send them to school. Most of these things are luxuries we take for granted.

These conditions consume their everyday, ordinary lives. Hopelessness lies at the very center of their world. Without help, they have no means of breaking this cycle of poverty they have been forced to live in.

But their despair does not go unnoticed for they have a God who sees their circumstances and hears their prayers. God’s heart breaks every time He sees one of His beloved children suffering in any way—including poverty. It is easy for us to simply overlook the needs of the world, especially when they are not right in front of us. But helping the poor is something that God recommends, He tells us to care for the poor and look after the orphans.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure as faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”—James 1:27

God tells us in His Word that we are to look after those who have been affected by poverty and that whatever we do unto others, we do unto Him. Jesus gives us a simple picture of this in Matthew 25:31-40. He tells us that whatever do for others, we do for Him. But just the same, whatever we lack in doing for others, we do not do for Him.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brother and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”—Matthew 25:40

Maybe we simply need to start asking God to help us see the world the way He does. We need to ask that He opens our eyes to see what He sees, and soften our hearts to feel the pain that He feels. Yes, looking at the world and seeing all of the crises and poverty can be extremely overwhelming. It is a natural reaction to think there’s nothing we can do to even begin making a difference in all the poverty found in the world.

I’ll admit that I’ve even felt this way at times. But I just finished reading a book called “Awake,” written by Noel Brewer Yeatts. Yeatts is the Vice President of World Help as well as the President of a clean-water initiative, causelife. Her book talks about living our lives fully “awake” so we may really see the world around us and help those in dire need the way God intended for us to.

Too often, we ignore what is happening around the world, or even in our own neighborhoods and communities. We don’t want to see the poverty and suffering around us, so we act as if our eyes are blind to all of it. But in Yeatt’s book, she explains her own experiences and stories working in impoverished countries around the world. She tells of how God revealed His purpose for her life in regards to poverty and hopelessness, as well as encourages the rest of us to ask ourselves how we can help those who are in need.

“The concept of poverty can be overwhelming, and the thought of making a difference can seem daunting. So we must narrow our focus. Instead of picturing masses of hurting people, we must begin to see the one suffering child,” Yeatts says in her book.

If we look at each individual person the way God looks at them, we will find that our actions can make a difference. Yes, as Christians we are to share the Gospel with the world. But one of the most basic ways to do this is by providing for physical needs on the ground, which then allows for us to meet their spiritual needs with the Gospel.

“Without access to clean water, food, and medicine that the body needs, faith means very little. But without the faith that feeds the soul, the short-term needs of today are nothing but a quick fix. When we focus on both—body and soul—something incredible happens,” Yeatts explains in her book.

God has a specific purpose for His people when it comes to poverty. He tells us to be generous with what we have been given, and he commands us in the Great Commission to share the Gospel with all nations. So what is our excuse for not doing so?

Many of our concerns are centered on money. “I do not have money to give anywhere after paying my bills.” “How do I know my money is being used for the right things?” These are valid questions and concerns, but we shouldn’t allow them to hinder us from reaching out to the poor and helpless. God says that as we rely on Him and give generously, as we can, for His purposes, He will provide for our needs. For all of us, this doesn’t necessarily mean to write a large check because for some, it is simply not a viable option in our current circumstances.

Even if you cannot financially give to organizations and projects working in impoverished areas, you can give of your time, talents, and prayers right where you are at. Help serve at a soup kitchen in your community, or donate some of your own possessions to those in need.

Nothing you can give is too small to help someone in need whether that be financial or not. God can use everything for His glory. Use your time in prayer to lift up those around the world who are dying from simple diseases only because they lack access to medicine we can receive every day. Pray that God would show you how He would want you to reach out to those less fortunate today.

Poverty is more than just a term—it is a reality for millions around the world. Each one of us can play a role in helping the poor and needy. We just have to choose to do so.  

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