Have you ever experienced first hand that “when it rains, it pours”? Among other complications with trying to build a new addition, our well shut down and had to be replaced, and the entire sewer line from our house to our septic system had to be dug up and the path restructured as well as the line replaced, since apparently the line was never set properly when our home was built 30 years ago. Ca-ching, ca-ching, ca-ching, and ouch, ouch ouch!
Now, I find myself tempted to complain, but the fact is: We have a well, and we have a sewer line and a septic system, which is not true for hundreds of millions of people around the world. For example, at the Bidi Bidi Refugee Camp in Uganda, there are 270,000 people trying to eek out an existence without a good water system, and I’ve heard that this camp—which was the world’s largest in 2018—has now been surpassed by an ever larger refugee camp in Bangladesh. While visiting the “City of the Dead” in Cairo, Egypt, we learned that up to two million people are making their homes among the vast network of tombs along a four-mile stretch of cemetery, the majority of which have very few amenities.
Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? Many “poor” people in North America and Europe are “richer” than the “richest” folks in some parts of the world. At least, in some ways! In other ways, maybe not so much! I have a friend whose family invited over some friends from Africa one night. Later that week, their 3-year-old daughter asked when the “rich” people were coming over again. After a lot of confusion, the mother realized that the little girl was thinking about the “rich” color of their African friends’ skin! Her parents would talk about how “rich” a dessert was when it was made with dark chocolate, and the little girl (wisely) made the connection to people with rich, dark skin as being “rich” too!
Although people who struggle financially may not be wealthy as the world counts wealth, I believe they can be rich in love and wisdom and grace. Often, poverty helps us focus on what really matters in life, and there are things which are much more important than having flushing toilets or running water in our homes!
True riches come from being able to drink from the pure, clean fountain of life: “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). True riches come from knowing and loving God: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33). True riches are found in loving others and being loved by them! “There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches” (Proverbs 13:7).
True riches are knowing that we have a home prepared for us in heaven because we have recognized our spiritual poverty and have asked God to forgive us for our sins and Jesus Christ to become our Lord and Savior. “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
As unpleasant as water and sewage problems are, spiritual thirst and having our lives fouled by sin are much deeper problems. Thankfully, we have a Savior who promises to be with us through the trials of life, both spiritual and physical. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). He cares for us.