I, and my crew, are ridiculously rich.
And I’m not talking about being “metaphorically rich” in blessings and the like. Besides, I find talk like that tends to border on trite and tired.
I’m talking about dollars and cents.
I’m talking about my bank account. My income. My budget. My home. My pitiful vehicle. My clothes. The food I feed my crew. My bed.
Like many of you, I worry about finances. As a part of my daily routine, I spend about 5-10 minutes on finances each and every weekday morning. I check my bank account, review out-going payments, make sure bills are scheduled for payment so as to avoid late fees, and double-check to make sure that we won’t be overdrawn. I plan, I budget, I work, I fret.
Being a single mom is a challenge. The kids get free meals at school, we sheepishly but gratefully partake of a local food bank, and friends are more, more, more than kind and generous to assist with gently used clothes. Without these gifts and others, we would not make it. We simply would not.
That is embarrassing. It shouldn’t be, but it is. I so desire to be independent. But, we are not.
However, we are so very far from wanting.
Because of incredible kindness, we have a roof over our heads, cars that continue to limp along miraculously, a full food pantry, and clothes that fill our closets. My job provides health insurance and income that does, for the most part, meet our needs.
My gratitude knows no end. It truly, truly does not.
So, why write words about all of this?
Because I learned this week just how ridiculously rich I am.
I stumbled across a Website called “Global Rich List” this week. It is maintained by CARE, International, a global humanitarian aid foundation formed in 1945. Admittedly, it is designed to promote fundraising, and at the very bottom of the page, there is a small “Donate Now” button. I give through my local church and through other ministries, and am not endorsing CARE here. But I do urge you to check out their “calculator”.
In fact, I dare you to.
When you click on here: The Global Rich List you will be taken to a website with a prompt to choose between Income and Wealth. Obviously Income is the easiest route–very few people accurately know their wealth on any given day. Next, a scroll down box helps you choose United States or elsewhere, so they can calculate based on the currency used in your country. Then there is a box where you can enter your income, post-tax. I just entered my yearly salary.
According to their calculations, I am in the top 1.23% richest people in the world.
If you continue to scroll down, you’ll find other mind-boggling stats, such as:
- How much you make an hour, and how many years it would take a worker in Zimbabwe to make the same amount
- How long you will have to work in order to purchase a can of soda, and how long a worker in Ghana (or elsewhere) would have to work
- How many doctors in Malawi (or similar place) could be paid on your monthly salary.
Yes, I have all the same cynical questions that you do–where do they get their information? Isn’t this just a ploy to tug on someone’s sense of pity to get them to give? And, what about differences in cost of living? (I don’t know if that is taken into consideration or not; it is just something that came to my mind)
Even with those thoughts, I think it is pretty safe to say that the vast, vast, vast majority who use this tool or who read my words here are far wealthier than the rest of the world.
Why is it this way? Surely this is not how God intended things to be? Why doesn’t He do something about distribution of wealth and poverty? I could write volumes on those and other thoughts, because I don’t know. These questions bug me, immensely.
But, even though they bug me–and maybe bug you as well–doesn’t mean that I am absolved. I can not just throw my hands up in the air and say “Not my problem.”
I can not because scripture is truth, and scripture is very clear on this matter.
I’ve done some scripture work in Proverbs 31 lately. Not the overly-familiar, cross-stitched verses of 10-31 that are sometimes used to beat women over the head. I’m talking about verses 8-9, verses I have never noticed before this year, when I came across them in Tony Merida’s book Ordinary.
I hide behind flimsy excuses that say “I can’t do much. I have my own problems. I can’t risk it.” Shameful. There is much that I can do. And much that I can teach my children to do. I can share what God has so mercifully put into my hands. I can practice hospitality, something I am horrible at. I can educate others. I can preserve dignity. And I can speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Yes, it’s about being a good steward, but it is so much more than that as well. It’s about caring well. Loving neighbor as self. Sharing hope. All things I fall far too short on.
I’m not advocating giving all your worldly goods away and then eking out some meager (or miserable) life, tearing toilet paper squares in half to save money so you can give more away. That’s not what I’m saying, at all. We are meant to enjoy the gifts we have been given. If you have a Keurig, by all means, enjoy that beast (though how you can stand to drink coffee will forever be beyond me).
I guess I’m saying, let’s all open our eyes. I need to open my eyes.
It’s about not only being recipients of God’s grace and mercy, but extending grace and mercy to others.