Meh. Ho-hum. Blah. With COVID-19 still making the rounds, this summer seems exceptionally under-whelming. With not much to look forward to, each new day feels pretty mundane. Needless to say, I’m not expecting any Top-10 hits about the “Summer of 2020,” unless, of course, it’s a parody.
I have to stop myself right there. That kind of thinking is what is commonly known as a “first-world problem.” That self-focused, woe-is-me mentality has no business among Christians.
When our focus is on ourself, it’s easy for other unproductive mindsets like boredom, laziness, and entitlement to creep in. I see this is true for my kids too. I argue with my 9-year-old to get out of his pajamas as lunchtime approaches, and then have to convince him at the day’s end that he can’t go to bed in his clothes. It’s only natural to feel unmotivated when every day is as uninspiring as the next.
Don’t Let Time Slip Away
God didn’t put us here so we could just lay around in our pj’s day after day. Further, there are people around the world who are counting on us to remember them. Summer is a laid-back time of year, and this summer, maybe even more so than others. But we cannot let the time slip away.
Extreme poverty doesn’t take a summer vacation. For the millions of people living hand-to-mouth in slums and remote villages around the world, there’s no time of the year designated for their rest or recreation. For those living in extreme poverty, the days are the same: try to find work, try to earn enough money for today’s needs (and often fail), hope to save a little extra for a better future, go to sleep hungry, and repeat the cycle tomorrow.
COVID-19 has made life even more difficult for many of the poorest people around the world. The International Monetary Fund reports that “COVID-19 is set to increase extreme global poverty for the first time in decades, with 26-39 million people thrust into extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa alone.” More than ever, the poor need our help.
How can I help the poor? What’s the best way to make a lasting difference?
Offer a Hand Up
What is helpful is a hand up. Same as when you or I are down. The poor need someone who will extend a hand and lend their strength.
Why is that My Responsibility?
Is it really my responsibility to help the poor? Well, if you want to obey God’s Word, the answer is yes. Scripture says:
“If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” (1 John 3:17-18)
“Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.” (Isaiah 58:10)
“John replied, ‘If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.’” (Luke 3:11)
“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
How Can I Lend a Hand to the Poor?
But how does a person like you or me do that? How do we lend the poor a hand? What if we feel like what we can do isn’t really enough to make a big difference? Two comments:
- Feelings shouldn’t stop us from obeying God’s Word.
- Helping the poor doesn’t have to be complicated.
You can pray for the poor. Bright Hope has an up-to-date prayer wall that shares the specific prayer requests of the poor. You can use this as a guide as you pray for them.
You can financially support programs that give the poor a figurative “hand up.” Bright Hope has many such programs in place. Learn more about what we are doing. Ally Connection, our quarterly newsletter, is a great way to find out more about our programs.
Advocating for the poor is another way you can help. The next time you read or learn something that is interesting to you, share it on your social media, or tell a friend about what you learned. The more people praying and supporting the fight against extreme poverty, the bigger impact we can make in breaking those chains of poverty.
This summer, remember it’s easy to care for the poor. Pray for them, give to programs that help them, and advocate for their needs.