Why Some Kids Are Born into Poverty: what to tell your children

Tucking her daughter into bed at night, Megan reminded Emma that we’re blessed to live in the United States where there is plenty of good food to eat and clean drinking water. She said some poorer countries don’t have these basic needs. Her seven-year old daughter then wonders why those poor people can’t move? Megan answered that babies are just born there. Emma looks at her and asks, “Why does God let that happen?” That question stumped her. Why do bad things happen to innocent kids?

Good question! Why are some children born into such dire circumstances? Here’s what you can say: God did not cause these terrible situations, but because He allows free will, sometimes people make bad choices. When God made the earth, everything was good. He provided humanity with all the things needed to survive: plenty of water, food and beautiful lands to build on to create all kinds of wonderful things! God also gave us the best gift ever — freedom. When He created humanity in His image, this included free will. He does not force people to love Him! He wants people to be free to choose to love and establish a relationship with their Creator, or not.

The first people God created, Adam and Eve, didn’t know about any hardships because they lived in the Garden of Eden. Eden was like paradise on Earth. (If you’ve never lived outside of paradise, you don’t know just how good it is!) Adam and Eve were deceived into thinking something must be better on the other side, and they rejected God’s plan for their own plans. They disobeyed Him by eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and by doing this, they threw humanity into a life-long lesson on what evils awaited. Now we all know how awful life can get when people reject God’s rule for their own. Adam and Eve got what they wanted—freedom to go their own way and be their own boss. This one act by our first parents was passed down into all of us in what is called the sinful nature. It’s a spiritual condition that is somehow transferred to all people. Because of this sin, God must redeem us. He had a plan to send Jesus to earth and pay the penalty for this sinful nature. He lived a life that showed us how to treat others—the way we’d want to be treated. When we don’t believe in Jesus, that is when we don’t treat others the way we should. That is why Christians need to set the example on how to treat people.

Today, the effects of rejecting God’s rule are felt all over the world. In poorer nations, or Third World countries, those in charge of managing the resources don’t always do a good job. Many of them are selfish, keeping too much food and resources for themselves — they don’t share. They don’t seem to care if some children don’t have access to clean water or enough food to eat. Sometimes, corrupt governments don’t educate the children, or teach them how to farm the land and care for the natural resources available. It’s terribly sad. Because God gave people free will, He doesn’t always interfere. Yet, lots of times God helps when people pray and act on His behalf.

We need to remember our job description—“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8.)

How do we act justly? By recognizing oppression and working towards freeing those held in its grips. For example, William Wilberforce knew slavery was wrong. When considering Scripture in its context, he knew God wants freedom for people. He then set to ridding the world of slavery. Like Wilberforce then, when someone is being treated badly, Christians should work towards alleviating that treatment.

Loving mercy is showing compassion and forgiveness towards someone when it’s within one’s power to do otherwise. Mercy is also demonstrated with a compassion to help others and try to alleviate suffering as much as possible. For God forgave us, even while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). We can do no less.

Walking humbly with God is simply recognizing our dependency on Him. He is the Vine and we are the branches (John 15:5). He grows us, prunes us when needed, and eventually helps us to produce good fruit. This fruit is love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).  This is how we can be the hands and feet of Christ towards a world full of hurt.

No child was ever supposed to be ‘born into’ poverty — that is not God’s will. People’s bad choices have caused most of the pain and hurt in this world. The good news is that God uses Christians to reach out to help poorer nations and oppressed people. Missionaries teach people about God, showing them how to farm their lands, help dig water wells, and other practical things that help better the lives of families.

God uses people to bring about His will on earth today. So, instead of asking why God allows bad things to happen, ask God how you can help.