Your Lot in Life—Can You Improve It?
CARMEN, the mother of sixteen children referred to in the previous article, was very depressed at one stage in her life. Her husband was an alcoholic, she lived in poor surroundings and she felt completely hopeless. Then one day a visitor came to the house, and her life began to change dramatically. What took place provides an example not only for the poor but also for all whose standard of living is threatened in this inflation-wracked world. Even when left a widow with nine still-dependent children and no income, Carmen optimistically set about making the best of her life. What, exactly, did she do to improve her situation?
She dug up the ground around the house and planted vegetables, to assure a small supply of food. Then she started to take in washing, to provide an income. She cleaned up the home, making it presentable for visitors. How did she manage that with so many children? She trained the children to help. Each had chores to do, and all contributed to the cleanness of the surroundings. She learned that the life of a poor person does not have to be degraded.
But where did Carmen learn these things? Her visitor helped her to apply Bible principles to her life, and Carmen soon found that those principles really worked.
Would you like to know some of the Bible principles that people such as Carmen have found practical for improving their situation? Following is a partial list.
Work: “Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah.” “We wish to conduct ourselves honestly in all things.” (Colossians 3:23; Hebrews 13:18) A diligent, honest worker is valued in any country. A man with such a reputation will rarely be out of work, especially if he is willing to accept any job and does not insist on doing only a special kind of work. Similarly, if he really wants work, he will go out to look for it, not stay at home waiting for it to find him.
Children: “Train up a boy according to the way for him.” “Let us cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit.” (Proverbs 22:6; 2 Corinthians 7:1) Give girls and boys chores around the house. Teach them to put their clothes away, to be neat and clean. Be sure they wash their hands and faces, especially before meals. Do not let them play around dirty water or drains. Keep the children’s relaxation simple and edifying. A romp in the park is more healthful than a visit to the movies, and often it is free.
Home: The above-mentioned scripture on cleanliness could also be applied here. A simple house does not have to be a dirty house. Clean surroundings give a feeling of well-being and confidence. Such cleanliness teaches good habits to children. Hence, take the time (and train the children) to polish floors, dust shelves, wash walls, and so forth.
Meals: “Better is a dish of vegetables where there is love.” (Proverbs 15:17) Buy simple foods. Look for bargains. Eat fruit and vegetables in season, as these will be cheaper and will help to keep your family healthy. Such concern about providing simple but nourishing meals will show your love for your family. And if you have visitors, do not feel that you have to provide more expensive food for them than you would ordinarily eat yourselves. (Luke 10:38-42) However, one good way to improve the food you serve—whether to family or to guests—is to plant food crops in any spare ground there may be around the house. Then you will be able to give your family fresh vegetables at a very low cost.
Vices: “A drunkard and a glutton will come to poverty.” (Proverbs 23:21) Drunkenness is a common vice in poor countries. So are gambling, smoking and the chewing of betel nut. However, a man should realize that money spent on such things cannot be used to feed his family.
Fads: “Let your reasonableness become known to all men.” (Philippians 4:5) Advertising often persuades poor people to be unreasonable. They spend money on things that they really cannot afford and do not need. For example, to some, soft drinks may taste good. But they are expensive and can even harm a person’s health. There are cheaper and better things to drink. Similarly, many mothers are being persuaded to feed their babies on baby formulas. Often, they can ill afford such an expense, while the food that Jehovah provided for babies—mother’s milk—is free. Hence, balance and reasonableness can be beneficial and can save money.
Such ideas as these are valuable to anyone trying to make his money go further in these difficult days. But for a poor person, they can make the difference between a tolerable life and a miserable existence.
Let us face the facts, though. Some people feel so depressed and burdened by the struggle of day-to-day existence that it would be difficult for them to summon the enthusiasm to apply such suggestions. They need not just suggestions but something to change their view of life.
This was certainly true of Carmen. But the visitor whose call made so much difference was able to supply that. The purpose in calling was not merely to encourage her to clean up her house and cultivate some land. The visitor had a much more important message than that, and this message gave Carmen the heart to make changes. It was a message of hope.