Poverty is not about money. It is not about being without housing, clothing, or a job. It has very little to do with what size house we have, or the number of SUVs in the driveway. This week we saw yet another school shooting in a school in America. (read) As I read the story, it breaks my heart to see someone come to this conclusion in their life. It saddens me to hear about the young girl in California who was killed after a school fight. (story) Both stories represent non-monetary poverty in two different ways.
Poverty of Self-Control
Poverty of self-control means that the pressure in a circumstance becomes so great that the will is altered. In the case of the 11-year-old girl, it was a story in which there was a basic school fight. There was nothing particularly strange about the fight. No weapons were used and they even said no one was knocked to the ground. There is no way anyone in this scenario thought that someone would die as a result. They were probably just fighting over some trivial matter and ‘needed’ to fight about it to keep their supposed respect. Yet, the girl soon didn’t feel well and later died. Those circumstances would have looked much different if she, or the others, had exhibited self-control. If they would have decided that it was not worth fighting about, she would be alive today. These things should never happen! Anyone who cares about children needs to really make an effort to help kids see how to reaming in control in circumstances that arise.
The answer for poverty of self-control is to be alert and in control. This sounds easier than it often is, but it is vital to living well. It means not allowing emotions or external pressures to control how you live. It also means not allowing internal pressures, like emotions, to control how you live. After all, the circumstances should not be how your life is shaped. Things will come up that aren’t ideal, but we can choose to respond with self-control and not impulse.
Poverty of Hope
When hope is lost, people do desperate things. I don’t know what the motive for this school shooting was, but it is clear that this person had lost hope. He might have lost hope in himself, in his family, in his school, in his friends, or in God. Somewhere he has lost hope and determined that the only way to deal with it is to bring a gun to school and kill people. That doesn’t appear to be a logical link to most of us, but someone who is living a hopeless life may not be thinking clearly.
There must be an answer to this, right? We need to actually care about people who walk around as if they don’t care what happens to them. It is sad to talk with teenagers who are dealing with deep depression or pain they should never have had to deal with. It is hard when families are splitting up or friends are doing things to intentionally hurt themselves. It is hard to make sense of it all, but there still is hope to be found. Hope is never found in circumstances, it is found in Jesus Christ.
The Secret to Gaining Wealth
When I was in high school I took a mission trip to Reynosa, Mexico. I don’t remember all of the details of the trip, but I remember one little girl. She was maybe 6 years old and had the most contagious smile. It is incredible that after all this time, I still remember what she looked like. I remember communicating with this little girl, as she was really enjoying the company of one of my friends. Since I could speak some spanish, I was asked to help. This girl lived in a little shack with her mom. She had absolutely nothing by our standards. Her house didn’t even have a side to it. Our role in this area was to just be there and love the people in the neighborhood. All this little girl wanted to do was be with us, sit close to us and hold our hands. Toward the end of our time there, she was getting sad knowing we were leaving. We searched for something to leave her with and gave her some piece of clothing to remember us by. She seemed moved by that and quickly ran off to get something. After a few minutes she came back with a small trinket of some sort. It was nothing but a piece of plastic, but to her it represented all that she had to give. She handed it to my friend and in her sweet way told us “you will always be in my heart.” In the midst of intense poverty, we found the secret to unlimited wealth.
There is the secret to gaining wealth without money. Bad things happen; some people have it harder than others; people hurt other people. If all our wealth is based on the things that make up this world, we will be absolutely devastated. However, when our wealth comes from a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, there is real hope. There is hope that takes the place of any despair that might want to creep in. This is hope that reminds us that our worth has nothing to do with money and everything to do with our identity in Him. This is the hope that this little Mexican girl had.
So, are you experiencing some poverty in one of these ways, or in another way? Find your hope in Jesus Christ. He loves you and wants to lavish you with His love and make you a part of His family. And, by all means, if you already have hope in Jesus Christ, don’t keep it to yourself. The only answer to these shootings and issues is Jesus Christ.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him” 1 John 3:1