When you think of the poor who or what comes to mind? Probably the homeless man on the corner. The families that live in the ghetto. The children in Africa that are on the commercials that are going with out food today. Yes they are living in poverty but are you poor too?
We have been learning that a major cause of poverty in the world is the result of broken and nonexistent relationships. In the west (America and other wealthy nations) we believe that being poor is usually associated with homeless, bad living conditions, lack of food, insufficient medical care, diseased and minimal clothing.
Poverty is the absences of material needs but that is just one element of poverty. Poverty is more inclusive than just that. It is the lack of God, relationships, material needs, self care (heart, mind, soul). Poverty is the absences of Shalom (Peace) in all it’s meaning. Biblically we who are materially wealthy (most of us reading this are considered wealthy), do have a responsibility to help meet the needs of those that are poor but how much more “wealthy” would we be if we invested into our on relationships.
One thing that we are learning is that you can have all of your material needs met in life and still be poor. We usually try to alleviate poverty by giving money, clothes, building houses, feeding the homeless, and meeting the material needs of people who have less than us. People on the corner or the drastically poor in Africa. What if we are the ones in living poverty not just them? Have you ever considered yourself being poor? Many of us live life and work diligently towards meeting all of our material “needs” but maybe this hinders us from the Shalom God intends for us. I am talking about relationships. The lack of friendships, laughter, encouragement, mentors, people who care deeply for us, family, regular conversations, and small groups of people that we can do life together with.
In Africa we see how deeply important relationships are. Relationships are everything to these communities. Wealth and happiness is measured in your friends and families. They believe that you can’t live life with out your community and it is remarkable at just how happy and content they are because of the people they do life with.
Lara and I think about all of our relationships and realise that we are wealthy beyond what we could ever count. We have many people that choose to invest in our lives and ministry every month. We have families that support us unconditionally. We have many friends that love us like crazy, some even travel around the world and others call us weekly to check in. NO matter how little we may have materially we know that our life is full of blessings that are worth much more than gold!
Today I thank the Lord that I am not suffering from this form of poverty!!!
(Our thoughts and ideas were formed from the book, When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett, Brian Fikkert)