Friday, October 30, 2009

Even our poor are rich

Poverty and prosperity are relative terms. For example if you own a car, you are among the wealthiest people in the world. At the same time if you feel the need to impress others with your material wealth, you will never have enough.

I once observed villagers in Ecuador who lived in bamboo huts. They were lacking in material wealth but seemed to be happy. They had families and friends, the children played games and the adults worked. I realized just how easy it is to be happy if we don’t become obsessed with getting more.

I have a friend who lives off a monthly disability check and lives in a Section 8 subsidized apartment. All his needs are met at a very modest level. He enthusiastically volunteers his time for a variety of ministries. He understands that God has put him in a unique position to be a missionary to his apartment building and his neighborhood. He does not view himself as poor but, rather, called to a sacrificial way of life.

When we learn to simplify our lives and live within our means, a world of possibilities is opened up for us.

Another friend found herself alone and impoverished when her husband left her following a crippling accident. Unable to work she went about learning how to prosper in her poverty. She spent many hours at the library enjoying the air conditioning and learning how to fend for herself.

She went to a local grocer and said that she would give him a quarter everyday for all the spoiled produce. She would salvage the edible portions and make a stew. Later, she made a deal with an elderly man in her apartment building, to cook his meals if he would pay for the groceries. They then shared the meal.

She never felt sorry for herself nor envied what others had. She was content where she was and grateful when her prospects improved. She looked back on those days as character building not misfortune.

Certainly to have is usually better than to have not but the chronically dissatisfied and, especially, the greedy will never be content. “A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper.” Proverbs 28:25

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12

No comments: