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Providence, Part 4 – Poverty

October 11, 2020

Beggar girl, Mumbai, India, Author Varun Chatterji (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

We conclude our series on God’s providence by addressing the subject of poverty.

Millions are born into abject poverty.  Is this a matter of random chance, perhaps the fate assigned them by a sentient universe?  Or is it karma, a consequence of their actions in a prior life, as Hindus and Buddhists believe?

And, if so, are the poor destined to live and die in poverty?

And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each of us” (Acts 17: 26-27).

Christians would say that God determines where we live and when.  This is not in a fatalistic sense.  Rather it is so that we might seek Him out, working out our Salvation in the process (Phil 2: 12) [1].

God loves the poor no less than the wealthy.  And He directs those whom He has blessed with riches to assist those without [2].  We can, in this regard, become the instruments of His providence.

[1]  Grace to You, “What Does It Mean to ‘Work Out Your Salvation’?” by John MacArthur, 5/6/20,

[2]  The Conversation, “Taxing the Rich to Help the Poor?  Here’s What the Bible Says” by Matthew Schmalz, 12/10/17,


  1. The picture of that little girl begging at the car window rends my heart! The scripture passage you have quoted from Acts is, I believe, a very important pointer in our work and witness. By whatever means, let us personally (face to face – that’s 1st prize) engage with the poor. 80% of the world is made up of the poor and young – that’s surely a pointer in the right direction, in addition to the Scriptures. Thanks, Anna, for reminding me/us of our high and holy calling (and privilege) in Christ! Shane Clairborne has said that as he took the Good News to the poor, he found they brought the Good News to him.

    • That photo rends my heart, too, Erroll. I had the chance to work directly w/ the poor in Philadelphia — both through mentoring and helping establish the predecessor of today’s Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia. I know exactly what Shane Claiborne meant. I thought initially that I would be the one to share the Gospel, to do good for the underprivileged. Instead, again and again, I met Christ.

    • True! Not only does He love them, He identified with them. Whatever we do for “the least of these,” we do for Him.

  2. Wonderful post Anna! I so appreciate your concern for others. Not many conservatives have the same mindset. Unfortunately progressives take up this banner more often. At least from what I have seen.

  3. Love it! Bless you for ALL that you have been and done for Jesus’ sake.

  4. Allan Halton permalink

    It is as you said, Anna, “God loves the poor no less than the wealthy. And He directs those whom He has blessed with riches to assist those without…” Thus we may become “instruments of His providence.”

    Just as Jesus Himself said: “For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them…” Mk 4:17 ESV

    In this broken world we will always have the poor with us, He says, but He doesn’t leave them to their “fate,” but to the benevolent desire of those who are better off than they.

  5. This is so a scenario..! You’ve put it so well..!🙌🏻

    Loved the work..!😁

  6. Barring a miracle of some sort, that little girl in the photo is condemned to a life of extreme poverty and deprivation. That alone should give us all cause to weep. Sadly, she is but one tiny dot on the world map of hungry and starving people. I read recently that there are upwards of 850 million undernourished people in the world today.*

    Contrast that with the nearly two Billion people who are overweight and obese*, and one cannot help but see the injustice of it all. Yes, Jesus tells us that the poor will always be with us**, but to think of such staggering numbers of people who do not have enough food to eat simply defies comprehension.

    Anna, have we (Christians) hardened our hearts to the point that we no longer feel for these people? Can we look at the little girl in the picture and simply ignore what is happening? Surely the Almighty is grieved with us if we aren’t doing all we can to lift these poorest of the poor up out of this pit. It was never intended to be like this, Providence or not!

    We in the church must accept some responsibility for this, for it is we who have been commanded to love people! God has equipped His church with everything it needs to be able to transform the lives of the destitute. My fear, however, is that instead of the church transforming our culture, our culture has transformed the church into something she was never intended to be!

    May God help us and have mercy upon us.

    ** Matt 26:11

    • I have obviously not made myself clear. It was never my intention to suggest that the poor resign themselves to their plight, Ron. I am not arguing that this girl should die alone and forgotten because “providence” determined it be so.

      To the contrary, I believe as strongly as you, my friend, that our task is to lift our brothers and sisters up. The Bible is filled with admonitions to care for the poor. Christ was born into poverty, after all.

      It would, however, be astonishing if the poor did not question God’s love for them. In weak moments, confronted w/ the magnitude of the problem, I have questioned it myself.

      This was my feeble attempt to put evils like poverty in a biblical context, to reconcile them w/ God’s sovereignty. God’s love never fails. His arm is not short. It is we — Christians especially — who have failed. That is the reason the poor will always be w/ us.

  7. Great post Anna,
    I agree, Jesus does not withhold His love from anyone..
    He preached the gospel to the poor, and told the rich Pharisees to invite them to dinner.
    He loved the rich Pharisees and rulers, but the poor widow touched his heart..

  8. Heart touching

  9. Hey! What do you think about organisations that tries to help world poverty like ?

    • Charity Navigator and Guide Star are two entities that provide information on non-profits. One key criterion, for me, is how much the CEO makes. Another is whether the non-profit supplies food, teaches skills, or simply lobbies.

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