Poverty is all around us. It's in us. No one is exempt. We're born into this battle of poverty. Every human being for all of time feels and knows the effects. Some are able to momentarily cushion themselves from its sting while others are blissfully deceived into thinking they're exempt. Poverty is brokenness. Poverty is death; the destruction of life. To live is to fight against this poverty. Both in the natural and the supernatural we know the struggle. Even to maintain good health we have to be strong enough internally to be protected externally. "Everything outside my physical life is designed to cause my death. The very elements that sustain me while I am alive work to decay and disintegrate my body once it is dead." In order to maintain mental health and spiritual moral there is a fight against deceit and threatening darkness. The Designer's original beauty and intent has been sabotaged by the created. Romans 1:21-25 so clearly explains what happened:
"because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man-and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen."In the garden we see Adam and Eve's relationship with God effected. They are found hiding in shame and sin from their Father. After the garden we see the toil to live as man fights against the earth to produce what it needs. Clearly relationships no longer hold the Designer's intent. Brother turns against brother and hatred replaces harmony.
Has it been sabotaged though? Or was this the original intent to better display the depth and beauty of the Creator? Does this backdrop of poverty better display the depth of Character, the glory of the Redeemer and His incredible rescue? The story of Moses in Exodus when the people are exiting Egypt comes to mind:
"Now the LORD said to Moses, "Go in to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants, that I may show these signs of Mine before him, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son's son the mighty things I have done in Egypt, and My signs which I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD."The LORD God - the One True God is revealing Himself. He is making Himself known and apart from His doing there is no way we would ever know Him. He chooses to reveal Himself through the 10 plagues in this story. He hardens Pharaoh's heart so that you may know that He is the LORD.
We often read this story and ask, "Why? Why didn't God just destroy Pharoah...get it over with already? Why 10 plagues instead of one? Why did God harden Pharoah's heart? What purpose did any of it serve?" Likewise we ask, "Why does God allow Satan leash? Why doesn't He vanquish sin and poverty once and for all? Why must we toil and struggle and fight and know its effects?"
I appreciated Piper's explanation: "God wills for his glory to shine forth not only through acts of physical power, but also through acts of moral and spiritual power that display the beauty of his grace with lavish colors. "The idea of a prism helped impart this truth. When you take light it is bright. It is blinding. It is one solid mass of glare. But when you take a prism up to it, it breaks up the light and displays what light is made of. All kinds of colors and beauty can be understood. The components of light are displayed marvelously. Likewise the prism of Pharoah's hard heart, the agony of the cross show forth more intricately the glory of God in such a way that we can really see Him and see Him supremely more beautiful than anything He has made. We see with our hearts and our lives that, "He is the LORD." He is all we need. He is victory over poverty. He is life. He is what is absolutely true and preeminent over all. When this seeing happens restoration occurs and the effects of poverty are pushed back or deflected. Faith replaces evil with the victories and beauties of Christ.
This prayer ministered much grace to my heart this morning as I know more and more the fight against poverty:
"Heavenly Father, we are sobered that you would regard the glory of your Son so highly that it would be worth the ongoing existence of Satan to make it fully known. We are ashamed that we have murmured about the battles of life when we should have made every effort to magnify your Christ-exalting reasons for giving the enemy so much leash. Forgive us for failing to see your holy purposes. And now, O God, by the blood of your Son, our Savior, give us victory over Satan. Grant us to see and savor the superior worth of Christ. Let us shame Satan by making much of Jesus. Grant us to glory in the work of the cross. Help us to cherish the finished work of Christ that disarmed Satan and took the sting out of death. Teach us how to fight by faith against the power of sin, in the confidence that secured the triumph of all who trust in him. Turn every evil design of the devil into sanctifying schemes of love. Deliver us from his deceptions. Keep the beauty of Christ clear in the eyes of our heart. Make us instruments of Satan's defeat until you come and slay him by the breath of your mouth. Make us valiant in delivering others by the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, your great Gospel. In Jesus' name we pray, amen."I know the crucible of the cross to be breaking up His glory in such a way that I can more supremely value Jesus and thus understand the world around me. The cross brings restoration, order, beauty and victory. It is not easy but it is good. He is good in all of His ways.
This song continues to sing over my days - over this transition. Stephanie Montes sang it at Mia Bella (a women's group) right before we left. I hear my Designer's words of promise - words of hope anchoring my fighting heart. He is not a God far off. He is near. He knows poverty and is the Remedy that our souls are all longing for. Come to Me.