Can you imagine going to a doctor and getting a diagnosis which says you have an infection when in reality you have a brain tumour? One of the families we helped with some grocery gift cards recently faced this experience. How do you help someone who can’t get enough to eat because they have serious physical set backs (the family also has an autistic son, a three year old daughter and other complications which keeps the mom from being able to work much)?
Poverty is a complicated reality because every story of an impoverished person is different. We are designed for relationship with God, with others, with creation and with ourselves but these seem to get fractured as we get caught in the web of poverty. The solution isn’t simply giving material handouts. You can’t buy love at the grocery store.
Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, in their book Helping Without Hurting, state that “When these relationships [listed above] are functioning in the way God designed them to function, humans experience the fullness of life that God intended: we experience deep communion with a loving God; we understand our inherent dignity and worth as image-bearers; we live in positive, giving relationships with others; and we actively steward God’s creation, both caring for it and being able to work and to support ourselves as result of that work. Indeed, when these relationships are working properly, the results bubble up in all aspects of our lives: families are nurturing, communities are flourishing, work is meaningful, and we are bringing glory to God in all that we do.”
Perhaps we are more impoverished than we realized. Our own addictive behaviors, our abuse or exploitation at the hands of others, our living under oppressive systems and our vulnerability to demonic forces can leave us emotionally, psychologically, mentally, socially or spiritually weakened.
The need for a vital, caring, prayerful, dignified, compassionate community in our church is vital but it is the need for rich relationships and opportunities which seem to be the best counter to personal poverty in whatever forms it appears. Since the fall, every one of us is broken, hurting or needy in some way.
What do you think? Are there signs of poverty in your own life which show you need community? Are there practices or efforts in our church family which need to be adjusted to truly deal with the poverty in our neighbourhood and in our own fellowship? Be rich to one another.