Why are there poor?
Jesus said, “For you have the poor with you always…” Mark 14:7a.
Did Jesus mean we are to care for them all the more? Or to recognize we can never rescue all of the poor? Or does this mean something else completely?
Recently, I was reading the children’s Bible to my son and, in its simplicity, I was suddenly struck by the notion that, like Lazarus, the LORD carries those who have lived wretched lives on earth; they experience comfort and wholeness after their earthly lives have ended.
The LORD, who exists outside of time, knows the purpose for all events and all of our lives. Perhaps the poor exist for themselves to be redeemed in the next life, and for the rich of this world to discover their own wretchedness in the next.
Ready: We are to value life, this life, irrespective of what our standard of living is. There is a place for all of us after life on earth, and those who are wretched in this life will be comforted in the next.
How this all works theologically remains somewhat of a mystery to me, as I know that Jesus came to save us all from our sins, and that none of us can see the Kingdom of God except through him. We must be born again by faith in the Son of God, just as Jesus said himself in John 3, if we are to have eternal life. BUT perhaps those in abject poverty are: in their humility, in their suffering, and in their despair, more aware of God, unlike the rich in their prosperity and distraction.
After this life, there is another that goes on for eternity. Perhaps, though Lazarus suffered in this life, God was using the suffering as an opportunity for the wealthy to love and to give. God honoured the poor man into eternity, for his suffering; comfort came to Lazarus. But pain and shame came to the rich man who saw nothing beyond himself while on earth.
Set: If we who have much honour the poor who have little, we are able to be grafted into the honour given to the poor man.
I wonder if this is how God sees the value of suffering? Certainly Jesus suffered on behalf of us all, but perhaps in His wisdom, he gives some of us more opportunity to suffer or to be a comfort to others in this life, in order to grow us for the next.
How will we move forward knowing the poor we will always have with us?
- We will love, in word and deed.
- We will acknowledge with respect and humility.
- We will give as we have been provided for.
And then perhaps we may share in some of the Glory that comes through suffering and hardship.
Go: love, live, enjoy and give.
2 replies on “Why will the Poor always be with Us?”
I have heard those words frequently. As I observe human efforts to achieve a utopia where there are no poor, I see over and over how the honor claimed by those who attempt to orchestrate utopia completely undercuts the effort that supposedly eradicates poverty. Instead of less poverty, such utopian campaigns always create more. Furthermore, they inevitably create pressure points and societal fractures, because those who build the utopia appropriate for themselves rewards inconsistent with the alleged concern for economic equality.
The fact is that we will, indeed always have the poor with us. The nature of the culture in time and space is to produce uneven economic outcomes. Jesus taught us to deal with those differences lovingly. He taught us to view our possessions as God’s means to do good on the earth, not his reward to us for being more deserving than others. Jesus’ statement is not permission to ignore the poor; it is a call to a high standard of compassion and generosity.
Thank you, Katherine, for your thoughtful and insightful comments.
Love for those in poverty shows itself in many ways, doesn’t it, be it through the humble offering of service, or giving, or by offering time to listen? What all these manifestations have in common is a showing of respect and care for others. The poor we will always have with us, be it the poor in spirit or in finance. What we do is to engage and support in whatever way we may feel called.
The only thing I can think of that it does not include is to turn a blind eye.
God bless and thank you for your contribution.