At the most basic level, poverty is a heart condition. It’s a lack of value and a lack of hope, a place where dreams die. It’s a condition that says, “I am not wanted. I am not needed. No matter what I do, change is not possible. I am stuck here.” Poverty breeds hopelessness and hopelessness breeds poverty. Not everyone in a slum is heart-poor. And not everyone who is heart-poor lives in a slum.
Do you know that place of loneliness? Have you ever been in a situation where you gave up hoping for change? Have you ever doubted that you have what it takes? Or thought you would be better off if you just stopped dreaming and made the hard choices? Sometimes life seems bent on making our souls smaller, stealing our hope, trampling our self-worth.
If these realities ring true in our society of “opportunity,” imagine what life would be like if your only opportunities were degrading. If the only job you could get treated you like an animal, imprisoning you behind wire and denying you rest or water. Imagine if you were beaten by your overseers and after all of that, couldn’t afford a good meal. What if despite your attempts to dream and keep hope alive, there was no possibility that your life would ever get better?
Combatting poverty is a many-level thing. It’s a fight on the level of the spirit and soul, a battle to infuse a broken heart with self-worth and self-respect. It’s a clarion call to the “stuck-in-a-rut” to dream again, to try, to believe that something could be different. And it’s also a pursuit of physical, concrete opportunities for development and improvement that make those who dare to hope more than star-struck dreamers. If a soul stuck in poverty learns to dream, and a dream has the opportunity to be followed, poverty will lose its powerful grip.
The ability to believe that change is possible is not only a call to the physically poor. It’s also a call to us. Do you believe that the things you do matter? That the choices you make could actually change the world? That if you could only impact one other life, it would be worth it? That you could live in such a way that your life imparts encouragement and opportunity to the poor, that you could be a dreamer of dreams that gifts those dreams to others? If you struggle with that as I do, then we are locked in the same spiritual battle, a battle to not only believe that change is possible, but to believe God when he says “greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
:Where Transformation Begins:
Nothing has changed.
For a moment I fancied
Heaven broke open
But still I am here
The same me, the same life, the same face.
The same empty places.
This glint in my eye
This twitch at my lips
This buzz in my mind
That for even one instant
I believed different was possible.