A scene in Les Misérables scrolls across my memory. Fantine is in a rundown, drafty house lying there sick. Her landlord comes in her room demanding that month’s rent. Fantine pauses and swiftly pulls the blanket away from her sweat-soaked body inviting her payment to be herself. The landlord had enough of her.
Is God unjust for allowing people to suffer through life? Is He unloving and perhaps even cruel to not come to the rescue of poverty-stricken people? I recently watched a documentary titled Harvest of Shame. Seeing the living conditions of the migrant laborers of the 1960’s caused a shadow of gloom to come over me. Here were these workers doing hard, physical labor and they could barely feed their families. The living conditions were bug infested and mattresses had holes in them from rats.
When the Black Death hit England in the mid-1300s, so many people were dying. Parents did not attach to their children emotionally until they were older and knew that they might live. The Great Depression left many respectable families living on the streets, begging for pennies to get by when jobs were scarce. Where was God?
God is not Unjust in People’s Poverty
The story of Noah is one of the first stories in the Bible people turn to in order to undermine God’s love. God wiped out all of humanity; except Noah and his family. God’s justice cannot always be put to the test by our sinful, feeble minds. If we believe the Word of God and if we believe that God is holy and cannot do wrong, we must take these stories and know that God is good and we deserve far worse. God allows suffering and death; designed for His perfect purpose.
In Genesis, we have the account of the Fall when man became cursed. “By the sweat of your brow…” will he work for his bread. Because of sin, we will eke out a miserable existence.
“No greater grief than to remember days
Of joy, when misery is at hand.” -Dante
A good question in regards to how we handle poverty is, “How did people make it when the government did not step in?” In the 1790s, a man by the name of John Baker could not support his family due to a mental illness. The community of Thetford, Vermont took it upon themselves to care for this family. The children were placed separately from each other and were well taken care of. People relied on their community and neighbors.
During the time of the Great Depression, larger families were seen as more stable because the odds of a few of them having a job were greater. Yes, more mouths to feed, but they managed to hold the family together.
The vast majority of churches began helping out their neighbors and created non-government organizations whose mission it was to spread the Gospel by means of caring for the poor. Hyper-individualism has created a void for governments to fill.
God is not unjust: unjust men, in their selfishness, fail to be generous.
For Further Discussion:
F.E.E. discusses socialism-caused starvation
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