Let me clarify, this is not an attack on beliefs in any way. I changed the title as I see how it came off and it is due to my personal frustration with not understanding how things work - I apologize and am a believer - but with many many questions...any clarification into this confusion is greatly appreciated.

Lately, I have been questioning my literal faith about God providing the basic necessities like food and shelter.

I would like to make sure I am not being arrogant or blind by not taking into account the fact that other people do not have basic needs met, when I believe without doubt that God will take care of me.

How can we harmonize a rock solid belief that God Will provide and facts that there are many many people who do not have these needs met?

Does the collective sin, such as economic injustice, war crimes or greed of others override the promise of God for any of these 925 million who may follow Jesus?

Matthew 6:
31 “Don’t worry and say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 That’s what those people who don’t know God are always thinking about. Don’t worry, because your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. 33 What you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what he wants you to do. Then he will give you all these other things you need. 34 So don’t worry about tomorrow. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Tomorrow will have its own worries.

925 million hungry people in 2010

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Please see: http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm#Hunger_concepts_and_definitions

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    I don't have the evidence at hand, but I believe the consensus is that there is more than enough food being harvested to feed everyone with extra left over. The world hunger problem stems from a number of issues that Christians identify as sin, such as economic injustice, war crimes, greed, and so on. I've voted to close, because I don't think the question provides a very clear view of the problem and it's connection to Jesus' promises. – Jon Ericson Sep 25 '12 at 20:39
  • @JonEricson: this sounds like the info I am looking for, please help me edit the question it you see where it would be good to do so. This is a very serious question coming from a believer not an attack. – Greg McNulty Sep 25 '12 at 20:44
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    That's a much better question. – DJClayworth Sep 25 '12 at 20:47
  • @DJClayworth: thanks, please feel free to edit also, what I am looking for this the core of word to observer reality and the harmonizing of the differences. – Greg McNulty Sep 25 '12 at 20:48
  • We live in a fallen world. That's your answer. – Affable Geek Sep 25 '12 at 22:23

Short answer: sin.

The world is not the place God intended, because people are in rebellion against God. Some sin hurts others; some sin hurts yourself. Either way, you can't blame God for the harm that comes when people do exactly what he said not to do. If you are lazy and a drunkard and so can't hold down a job, perhaps the fault is with yourself and not with God. If a sadistic murderer kills an innocent person, perhaps the fault is with the killer and not with God.

There are some verses that are often quoted to say that the Bible promises that once you become a Christian your life will be problem-free. There's Matthew 6 that you quote in your question. There's Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ[a] who strengthens me." Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God." Etc.

But common sense would tell us that the Bible writers could not possibly have meant that the Christian-life is trouble-free. They all were well aware that this is not so. The Philippians 4:13 verse I quoted above comes right after 4:12, "I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." Paul was well aware that all Christians are not healthy and wealthy, from personal experience if nothing else. The same Paul who wrote the Philippians and Romans verses I quoted also wrote 1 Cor 11:23-28, in which he recounts how he has been shipwrecked, beaten, imprisoned, etc etc. Likewise, the same Jesus who said the words in Matthew 6 also said, just a page or two back in Matthew 5:10-11, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake." He was well aware that his followers would be slandered and tortured and killed for their beliefs.

I've heard lots of people say that they don't believe the Bible because there is so much evil and suffering in the world. But that makes no sense at all. Nowhere does the Bible say that the world is a place of perfect happiness and prosperity. Quite the contrary, the Bible repeatedly says that the world is full of evil and sin and suffering. We look at the world around us and we see that it is full of evil and suffering. Thus, the Bible has been proven wrong! Um, what? These people have made up their own religion, a religion where God prevents all evil and suffering in the world, a religion completely different from Biblical Christianity. Then they look at the world around them and see it does not match this religion. And so they declare Biblical Christianity to be false.

By the way, I think the experience of history is that to the extent that people live according to God's laws, they are free and healthy and prosperous. While of course there is poverty and crime and suffering all over the world, there is a whole lot less of it in places where Judaism and Christianity have historically been strong, like Europe and North America and Israel, than in places where Judaism and Christianity are weak, like Asia and Africa and the Middle East outside of Israel.

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  • thanks for this, it really helps. I like your last point there about the parts of the world. I guess I don't know how to read the bible and make sense of it, it seems like it is a moving target...the only parts of the Bible that are clear to me is sin - and that it must be removed from our lives to the greatest extent, and come to look at it, that was also your short answer to the question. – Greg McNulty Sep 27 '12 at 17:28

Oddly enough - I'm going to argue this is a duplicate of Who is responsible for my life?, not that any reasonable person would have made the link.

That 1 in 7 are unable to obtain even the basic staples of life is a deadly, miserable fact - but it is not because God doesn't provide it, but rather that his creation is so disordered and improperly stewarded (yes, Adam has failed at his task!) that it is incapable of properly allocating it. (War, Theft, Environmental Change - you name the cause!)

That said, the argument still holds:

  1. We live in a fallen, disordered world that God never intended, but nonetheless allowed.
  2. God is not "responsible" for this state, we, as rebellious creatures are
  3. God's character is never to override free decisions. He woos, he does not whelm.
  4. The disorder breaks God's heart, but to pull a deus ex machina (pun intended) to fix things would violate his nature.

The long and the short of it is thus: God is incapable of rectifying the evils in the world, not because he lacks the power, but because it does not accomplish his purposes.

But to assume that God's purpose is to maximize the amount and quality of life on the planet is a mistake. God's purpose can be accomplished through life and death. Through joy and sorrow. Indeed, it is only recent generations that have come to expect their reward in this life at all. And remember, God achieved his mightiest triumph by dying on a cross.

As the Teacher said, "to everything there is a season. A time to be born, a time to die. A time for peace, a time for war." God appoints all things.

The hope of the Christian is not to avoid these things, but rather to know that God loves him in spite of them. As Paul says:

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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  • just for a moment, pretend you are one of the 925 million people and a believer and you read Matthew 6:31 - should you say to yourself, this passage doesn't apply to me becuase of the collective rebellion/sin of humans? I don't get it... – Greg McNulty Sep 25 '12 at 23:26
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    @GregMcNulty just because we don't like the answer, doesn't mean it's not the right answer. God's purpose is for our spirits, not our bodies, and as Affable Geek said, this can be accomplished through what humans see as good and bad. There are many Biblical references to the suffering that Christians should expect to endure. – elemjay19 Sep 26 '12 at 4:10
  • @norabora: so can I believe in Matthew 6:31 and that it will apply to me? – Greg McNulty Sep 26 '12 at 16:36
  • @GregMcNulty It does apply to you, if you are a Christian. Because worrying is not of God. Should we pretend we don't have those needs? No. But we shouldn't obsess over them either. God will provide if that is His will, but sometimes it's not. Sometimes we need to suffer to bring us closer to Him. And sometimes, He puts opportunities in our lives, or the lives of others, for those needs to be met but through our free will it doesn't happen. There are not easy answers. – elemjay19 Sep 26 '12 at 22:35

I am one of those 925 million, not because of laziness, by a God-ordained health issue. The answers that say "God cannot" are incredibly discouraging. God is able at every turn, regardless of individual or collective sin, as He's demonstrated to Adam and since.

So, here I am, awake at 4 AM, worrying how will I heat my home in amidst the freezing temps. Jesus's answer in Matthew 6 brought peace to my nervous soul, unlike the angst and hopelessness the reasoning, yet faithless (why pray, then?) answers did.

No answer for my plight, but certainly.lying, once again, Jesus reminding me not to worry but fix my eyes on Him, abide in Him, cast all my cares upon Him. Ok, Lord, I will trust you, no matter where You lead me.

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