Poverty Doesn’t Define You


Poverty defined most of my life. I was the oldest of six children, and still I wore hand-me-downs from the daughter of my mother’s best friend.

At dinner, my mother loved to eat the meat off of bones we discarded. Only recently had I learned that meat was her sole portion.

My father fished as a pastime. We loved when he brought home fish or clams.

Even all those years ago, wealth defined worth. How I dreamed of moving away to a place where no one knew me, and I could redefine myself. I swore, a lot like Scarlett O’Hara, I’d never be poor again. (Did I keep my promise to myself? Read on and discover the answer.)

We come to the last woman in Jesus’s genealogy: Mary. According to Herbert Lockyer, “Mary belongs to those grand majestic females inspired with the spirit of prophecy, who is capable of influencing those wh0 become rulers of men and also the destiny of nations” (All the Women of the Bible, pg. 93).

But who was she before she became Jesus’s mother?

She was a poor woman in a remote town. Nazareth was so unknown and unremarkable that Nathaniel, a disciple, once asked, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (Jn. 1:46).

She knew her poor estate. She says in Luke 1: 48, “For he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.”

Poor. Unknown. Not married. She was chosen

Poverty Doesn’t Define You

  1. Mary had the privilege, and the pain, of raising Jesus.
  2. John the Baptist came from the same roots. His father, as a priest, was probably comfortably middle-class. He, however, lived a subsistent life in the desert.
  3. Peter, Andrew, James and John were stinking fishermen. Not rich. Probably not poor. Their wealth and their occupations did not limit them.
  4. Onesimus was an escaped slave. He had been a great help to St. Paul.

These people worked hard for a living. Their lives were devoted to Jesus, and they had a great impact on the world.

Don’t work riches. Work so you’re not in need–but not for greed. Remember this Proverb: “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, `Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God” (Proverbs 30: 8-9).

And yes, I never became rich. I didn’t remain so poor that I went without food. Even in those days, we had more than most people in the world. Never wanting to live in poverty again, I became a teacher. I saved my money. Worked even when the job frustrated me beyond endurance.

You are more important than your finances.


Prodigal Lives

Pearl wants stuff. She thinks her sisters have everything. Her greed draws her into her biological father against her grandfather’s wishes. The rest is a downhill slide. See how she finds hope.


  1. Your reference to Mary described her life perfectly. I wonder how often we think of her looking at her infant, her toddler, her child, her teenager, her adult son without the dread of losing him. Did she favor him above her other children because she knew his future? We can’t know the burden she carried because there’s no way any of us ever walked in her shoes, or ever will. We can only strive toward reaching her level of obedience to God. Your insights are always a blessing, Carol. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Another wonderful post, Carol. Thank you.

    I encourage your readers to read your Treasured Lives series for realistic fiction that reveals the redemptive power of Christ’s love.

  3. Joe Guy says:

    I love your blog, Carol, especially the one today regarding Mary. Not a day goes by that I don’t recite the Rosary, oftentimes, several times in a day.

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