The definition of poverty includes the lack of necessities. Most, when they think of poverty, equate this with physical items, money, housing, food, and physical “stuff.” Poverty includes much more than this. Our human needs include more than the physical. I want you to ask yourself, “Am I living in poverty?”

I began thinking about poverty during my recent mission trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. There I did see physical poverty. Our group was there giving shoes to the youth. The people did not have the material substances of others. The houses may not have been as nice. The food was not as plentiful. The roads needed repair, but I realized more than ever, poverty was more than physical needs. On my return to the states I began to notice the poverty all around me. In many instances this type of poverty is more dangerous. It is unrecognized.

Relational poverty, emotional poverty, health, and spiritual poverty seem to be rampant. Divorces are at an all-time high. We spend more time texting than talking. We are spending more time with the media and less time with each other. The computer is replacing person-to-person interaction. Even at work, I spend more time with a computer than the patients on many days. How can I have better relationships when I spend less and less time with people?

Then there is health poverty. Less can be more when it comes to health. We are acquiring too much weight. We are taking more and more pills for a plethora of symptoms. We are eating more and more processed foods and less greens and beans. The incidence of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and lifestyle related chronic disease is on the rise.

Then there is mental poverty. Mental health problems are at an all-time high. Stress abounds. We take more things personally, jump to conclusions, and overreact. Society is on more anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, pain medications, and illicit substances than ever. The need is to numb the inputs of life. We want to focus on anything but our own thoughts and feelings.

Then there is spiritual poverty. The world we live in makes more difficult to connect with God. We are too busy in this 24/7 world to focus on yet another necessity. We do not need God. We have everything we need. Technology will solve our problems. We have a government that will take care of us.

Poverty includes all necessities, not just material needs. Do I have all the answers? No. I do see a need. We need to recognize all types of poverty. This is the first step. I also want you to be honest today and ask yourself, “Am I living in poverty?” Do I have needs that are not being met? If these needs are not met will this cause harm? How do I even recognize my own poverty? These are the questions I began asking myself. Before we can craft possible solutions we must realize there is a problem. Do you recognize poverty?