Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD. // Jeremiah 17:7
Recently a teenage girl asked me, “Debbie, why do you think Jesus loves the poor so much?”
Flashback seventeen years.
As I stepped off our mission team bus into the overwhelming sights and smells of rotting garbage, I naively thought we were there to help the poor who worked and lived in the Mexico City dump. Yes, we brought them food and clothing, basic medical care, and shared Christ’s love. But throughout the years, as I returned often and got to know these people, I discovered a startling truth: we need the poor more than the poor need us!
Why? Because my brothers and sisters in Christ who live in the garbage dump show me what it looks like to put your whole trust and hope in the Lord. It is not when your needs and wants are met in abundance, but when you literally have nothing—no possessions, money, power, or influence—and still you choose to believe that God is good and trustworthy.
Through their undeniable, desperate reliance on God, my impoverished friends powerfully expose and break down the barriers of wealth, self-reliance, privilege, and pride in me that turn my heart away from the Lord.
The forgotten poor, who by the world’s standards live in a filthy, barren, God-forsaken place, are like trees planted beside water. In their dire need, they stretch out their roots to the Source of Living Water. Even amidst the cycle of illness, violence, hunger, and oppression, they do not shrivel in fear or wither away. Instead, they bear the fruits of patient endurance—peace and joy, faith, hope and love—because their hearts are set on Christ alone.
While I grasp for the fading treasures of this world, they cling to the real Treasure, and the promise that the comfort and consolation denied them in this earthly life will one day be theirs in Heaven. Only radical trust in God can transform a garbage dump into a beautiful grove of trees, fragrant with the aroma of Love.
Saint Mother Teresa once remarked, “Only in heaven will we see how much we owe to the poor for helping us to love God better because of them” (source).
Who are the poor in your midst and what can they teach you about how to love God better?Bear the fruits of patient endurance. // Debra Herbeck Click To Tweet