Will Eliminating Extreme Poverty Require a Miracle?

How do you define a miracle? I heard once that it is “a divine or supernatural invasion into human affairs.” Pretty simple explanation, don’t you think?

I find myself praying for miracles every day and they all look and sound quite different. Some are for healing for friends who are sick. Some are for perfect provision for families. Some are for little, personal things like …  returned e-mails. Perhaps that seems trivial or petty, but there has been an e-mail I have been waiting for, hoping for really, for months now. At this point, it would seem like a miracle to get a response.

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but here at Compassion many people believe that we can eliminate extreme poverty in our generation. Let’s put a little more structure in that statement, shall we?

small girl carrying two containers of water on shouldersTo eliminate means to remove, to expel, to exclude, even to murder.

How big is the problem of extreme poverty? Three billion people worldwide and 1 billion children deep.

You might think we’re “drunk on the spirit,” and that our goal is unrealistic, completely irrational or even not Biblical. I will be honest with you, I thought it was out of reach, too. Truly, I thought it to be an impossible task.

But lately, both personally and professionally, God has been asking me this simple question — “Do you have any idea who I am? I know you think you do. But do you believe that I am the God of the Bible? The one who parts seas, makes rivers in the desert, and brings bread from boulders?

“Do you believe I am a God of signs and wonders? Do you believe I am as big as you tell others I am? Do you believe I still perform miracles, Meredith?”

I wonder if I am the only one who preaches bigger than they pray. I used to be Baptist, which means I get excited when I talk about Jesus and I get loud when I read Scripture. You could say I’m passionate.

But I also play my prayer life safe. I don’t pray big prayers because I’m scared they’re too lofty, too much. And in the event that God would say “No,” to one of my astronomical prayers, I don’t want to be disappointed. So I don’t even risk asking.

Here’s the thing — this is not how we are instructed to pray or live. As Christ kneeled in the garden of Gethsemane, He asked the Lord to take the cup of sacrifice from Him. God said no. But Jesus obeyed, did as He was told, and saved humankind for all time.

We, as believers, are called to defend the poor and needy, to advocate for the oppressed, to fight injustice. If we do as we are told, if we obey God’s call and mandate on our lives, we would be crazy to think that He won’t show up in a big way, being faithful to what He has promised to do.

He cannot deny Himself — and if He is present in your soul, making Himself manifest in your thoughts, words and actions, then He will not deny you or your request.

Pray bigger with me. Pray for miracles. Pray for signs and wonders.

Pray that extreme poverty would come to an end in our lifetime. And after you pray, do something.

It’s not radical …  it’s Biblical.

Editor’s note: Extreme poverty is the severest state of poverty. People living in extreme poverty cannot meet their most basic needs for food, water, shelter, sanitation and health care.

The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than U.S. $1.25 per day, and estimates that more than 1 billion people currently live under these conditions and another 2 billion survive on less than U.S. $2 per day.

6 Comments |Add a comment

  1. RoseAnn June 8, 2010

    I pray safely. I do want to pray to the Lord God Almighty as he is described in the Bible.
    But as to signs and wonders I am a bit leery after Jesus us warned us not to always believe in them.

    Mar 13:22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.

    I will pray according to the Lord’s will and let him move among those who need his help the most. Sometimes it is the earnest prayer of a righteous man that avails much.

    I want to thank you for inspiring me to become an earnest righteous prayer! I know our Lord will work in mighty ways.

    To God be the glory.

  2. Amy Wallace June 8, 2010

    Wow, I really needed to read this blog. I pray safe too. I seriously don’t know why I’m reluctant to ask God to do big things. It makes no sense and sounds absolutely silly once you think about it.

    Thanks for the reminder to pray big!

  3. Meredith June 8, 2010

    Juli, what an incredibe story! Thanks so much for sharing! It’s amazing to see how ready and willing God is to bless us beyond our limited imaginations or asking if we make room for Him to move! We’re so grateful for all that you do!

    1. Juli Jarvis June 8, 2010

      I believe this ministry is God’s work and that He is already asking His people to support children in need. I just need to join Him in what He is already doing. For that reason, I always pray He will lead me to those whose hearts He’s already prepared. Secondly, after praying, I need to be alert to the people He brings to me — those I meet in the grocery store, coming out of shops, or at church. If we are alert, we will see (all around us) the “works” God has prepared for us ahead of time. I have tested this theory time and time again, and it really doesn’t “work” when I try to come up with my own agendas and plans. It’s a trust-pray-be alert-join-Him type of mentality! [Sorry, I’m getting carried away, but it’s true! 🙂 ]

  4. Juli Jarvis June 8, 2010

    You are so right. This cannot happen in our own initiative and determination. It can only happen in God’s way and strength. I was trying to find sponsors for unsponsored children I met in Thailand last month, and realized I was trying too hard. When I started praying about it, and being alert to what He was doing around me, God brought me 6+ new sponsors (I only needed 4)!

  5. Mary Dunn June 8, 2010

    Great Article, great challenge…I pray safe also….today that will change…I want to see the God of the bible do signs and wonders! So excited to get started.

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