Breaking the Brokenness of the Cycle of Poverty: Part Two

Rescues the Poor

by Heather Bock

Two Sundays ago, God broke my heart for the poor in my city (which I wrote about last week here). I asked Him, “What are you going to do for those struggling with poverty?”
I have been working through Steadfast Love, a Bible study written by Lauren Chandler focusing on Psalm 107. It’s a good study, but for some reason, God hadn’t been using it in my life too much. I couldn’t relate to the application up to that point. I kept asking God to teach me through it, but He didn’t do much with it. That is, He didn’t until the Monday after I asked Him about poverty.

I sat down to do the study, and as usual on a Monday, I was asked to reread Psalm 107, preferably aloud. This time when I read it, every verse came alive as if God Himself were speaking aloud in answer to my hanging question from Sunday.
My blog posts are not usually like this, but this time I’m including the entirety of this psalm, interspersed with what I felt God was telling me through it.
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary
And gathered from the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south.
Even though I questioned Him, He answered me with grace, reminding me of His goodness. His love never ends. He loves the poor so much more than I or anyone else who has worked with them all their lives could ever love them. I had asked Him for redemption, and I had been thinking of people who primarily live in the north and east of our city, but God assured me that He has redeemed from all directions–north, south, east, and west.
They wandered in the wilderness in a desert region;
They did not find a way to an inhabited city.
They were hungry and thirsty;
Their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble;
He delivered them out of their distresses.
He led them also by a straight way,
To go to an inhabited city.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness,
And for His wonders to the sons of men!
For He has satisfied the thirsty soul,
And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.
Some of the poor are wandering, not knowing what to do next to get the help they need. God reassured me that when those people call out to Him, they will be delivered, if not from all their physical needs, then definitely from their spiritual needs. He will satisfy their spiritual hunger and thirst, and I believe when they call to Him, He will satisfy their physical hunger and thirst, too.
10 There were those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death,
Prisoners in misery and chains,
11 Because they had rebelled against the words of God
And spurned the counsel of the Most High.
12 Therefore He humbled their heart with labor;
They stumbled and there was none to help.
13 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble;
He saved them out of their distresses.
14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death
And broke their bands apart.
15 Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness,
And for His wonders to the sons of men!
16 For He has shattered gates of bronze
And cut bars of iron asunder.
17 Fools, because of their rebellious way,
And because of their iniquities, were afflicted.
18 Their soul abhorred all kinds of food,
And they drew near to the gates of death.
19 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble;
He saved them out of their distresses.
20 He sent His word and healed them,
And delivered them from their destructions.
21 Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness,
And for His wonders to the sons of men!
22 Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
And tell of His works with joyful singing.
Some people in poverty are there because of the natural results of sin. The poverty those particular people face might help them reach a place of humility, which might bring them to God for help. When they call out to Him, He will help them, again, spiritually for sure, and possibly physically, too. It is sure that He loves them through it, no matter what. In the end, they will be able to praise Him.
23 Those who go down to the sea in ships,
Who do business on great waters;
24 They have seen the works of the LORD,
And His wonders in the deep.
25 For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind,
Which lifted up the waves of the sea.
26 They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths;
Their soul melted away in their misery.
27 They reeled and staggered like a drunken man,
And were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
And He brought them out of their distresses.
29 He caused the storm to be still,
So that the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 Then they were glad because they were quiet,
So He guided them to their desired haven.
31 Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness,
And for His wonders to the sons of men!
32 Let them extol Him also in the congregation of the people,
And praise Him at the seat of the elders.
Some have fallen into poverty, not necessarily because of what they’ve done wrong, but because of some difficulty in their work–maybe they lost their job due to downsizing, or a seemingly good plan went awry. However, when they cry out to God for help, He will help them. Once again, He will be praised.
33 He changes rivers into a wilderness
And springs of water into a thirsty ground;
34 A fruitful land into a salt waste,
Because of the wickedness of those who dwell in it.
35 He changes a wilderness into a pool of water
And a dry land into springs of water;
36 And there He makes the hungry to dwell,
So that they may establish an inhabited city,
37 And sow fields and plant vineyards,
And gather a fruitful harvest.
38 Also He blesses them and they multiply greatly,
And He does not let their cattle decrease.
It may seem to me that a situation is impossible, that the cycle of poverty is so strong that no one can escape, but God can not only take good situations and make them go wrong in order to humble, as was mentioned before, but He can also change deserts into oceans. He can make nothing into plenty. What can our God not do?
39 When they are diminished and bowed down
Through oppression, misery and sorrow,
40 He pours contempt upon princes
And makes them wander in a pathless waste.
41 But He sets the needy securely on high away from affliction,
And makes his families like a flock.
42 The upright see it and are glad;
But all unrighteousness shuts its mouth.
43 Who is wise? Let him give heed to these things,
And consider the lovingkindnesses of the LORD.
He can easily bring to ruin those who oppress the poor. He can take the needy out of their situations. In the end, people who follow Him will see what He has done and will be glad and know His great love.
I don’t know how God will do all of this for those in poverty who call on His name, but I can trust that He will take care of those who run to Him. My question is, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?” (Rom. 10:14-15a)
We must listen to God’s call and go to those in need as He asks us to do so.
This past Sunday, He answered another of my questions: “What can I do?” A woman I know dealing with poverty asked me if I would take her to get her hair cut. I can’t handle much more in the very busy schedule God has given me, but I can handle that small request, and I’m so excited I can!
What might God be calling you to do to help answer these questions of mine?

0 thoughts on “Breaking the Brokenness of the Cycle of Poverty: Part Two

  1. One of my favorite verses in the Psalms is 27:13. “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” God is at work, here on earth, in this life (the land of the living) as well as promising us an eternity with Him. He loves the afflicted and the oppressed. And when we lend them a hand, we are loving what He loves! Thanks for this encouragement!

    1. I remember Psalm 27 was a favorite of my mom’s when my sister had leukemia. I hadn’t thought about it in this context. Thanks for helping me see it in a new light!

  2. Our church helps support a food pantry that teaches English. We have a lot of immigrants and refugees in the area. I keep thinking there’s more to do there.
    You are so right, God’s power is limitless.

  3. In the new testament, when John the Baptist was in prison, he began to possibly doubt based on his circumstance. When he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he truly was the One, Jesus responded, “blessed are those that are not offended by me.” In other words, I’m not going to take you out of this captivity, but blessed are those that are not offended by me. We must do what we can as God leads, but sometimes the breakthrough and the blessing is in the spiritual realm. It can be hard to understand on this side, but blessed are those that are not offended! Until then, as you said, “We must listen to God’s call and go to those in need as He asks us to do so.”

    Great post, Heather! So glad you were able to help out the woman who needed a haircut!

    1. Well, we haven’t gone yet, but we’re in the planning stages. We’ll probably go this week or next. 😊

      This is a good observation about not being offended by God. He’s not always easy to understand, but we’ve got to trust His goodness and love.

  4. I love this, Heather! Thanks for the challenge to reach out and help those in need. I was just studying Daniel and was surprised to discover that his advice to Nebuchadnezzar included this about the oppressed: “Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.” (Sadly, the king didn’t heed the advice and spent awhile grazing like a cow in the field.) All that to say this is an important topic and I’m glad you’re highlighting it.

    1. Helping the oppressed is so important to God! He has it all over the Scriptures, but it’s so easy for us to ignore it when we’re isolated from them (me included).

  5. Thank you for writing this and I’m so glad, in the midst of a very full inbox, I stopped to read it. God definitely had something to say to me as well. I have been overwhelmed by Financial stress, and the feeling that there are just way too many bills and not enough money.

    I feel as though God has been saying he were working so hard, but forgetting that I am your provider. Thank you for reminding me of that today. That he is my provider.

    Thank you, Lord!

    God bless you!

    Coppelia Acevedo

      1. Yes, He is!!!! ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ I really believe he put on my heart to pray for our “Dave Ramsey approved emergency envelope” like it’s the widow’s jar – – that it would flow and stay filled, like hers did with oil and flour! Crazy, but just another reminder that the one who feels the envelope is Him and not my frantic effort. 🙂

  6. How incredible is that that God can turn our deserts into oceans?! What a great reminder that He is aware of ALL of His people and the situations they are in–that His heart is for the poor and He is able to do mighty things on our behalf when we ask. Praying that God will continue to show me opportunities to do my part as well!

  7. Heather, I love this post with all the wonderful scriptures. I sense your tender heart for “the least of these.” My city has a large homeless population. One can expect to be approached for money or food often when out and about. Many people feel bad, but are frightened, or feel if they help the person could be perpetuating the problem (possibly with drugs, alcohol or laziness). I understand feeling this way, but it just didn’t settle well in my spirit. I started putting together “blessing bags” that I keep on hand in my car to hand out when I’m approached. Here’s a post where I show how to put together the bags.
    Thanks for challenging us to act out God’s word by meeting the needs of those in need.

    1. This is a great idea! Thank you for sharing it and the link! My church (I think it was my church) encouraged us to do this once when I lived in Knoxville and there were more homeless people. I remember having one in my car for a while but never coming across any homeless people, so I finally gave it to a friend who saw them regularly, and she gave it out. Very few homeless people live in my current city, but I hope others will take up this idea!

  8. Heather, I do so appreciate your writing. You always leave me thinking. Thank you for presenting the situation this way. I struggle knowing, as Jesus said, that there will always be poor among us, and how unbalanced that is to my way of viewing a loving God. I keep forgetting they have a role in their paths a well. He does love them, and is jealous for their love, just as He is for ours. You’ve helped me immensely today. Thank you!

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