Wednesday, November 1, 2023


 We grew up poor. We didn’t know we were poor until other people told us we were, but looking back, in the traditional sense, by any metric, we grew up poor. Even with poverty, there are brackets. It wasn’t the Appalachia three kids share one shoe kind of poor; it was Southern California, cockroach races on the kitchen counter in your musty apartment kind of poor.

We never went hungry, but some days, grandma stretched the soup by adding extra water until one lonely piece of carrot swam in the cloudy broth as though it had not a care in the world. Both my grandmother and my mother were wizards in the kitchen, and in hindsight, one of the things I appreciate most about how I grew up is that nobody ever left our apartment hungry. There was always enough for everyone, even though, by all appearances, times were hard and getting harder.

You know your neighbors see you in some kind of way when the Mexican family next door brings you a block of yellow government cheese. Yes, I remember those times. Yes, I ate that cheese. If I ever start glowing in the dark, I’ll know why. The only complaint is that it didn’t melt quite right. In hindsight, that was probably a tell.

Anyone who’s ever had to leave everything they worked for up until that point and go to a country where they didn’t know the language, the culture, or where you could go to buy a gallon of milk for the first few days you were there will tell you that it’s not easy. It’s not like an all-inclusive to Mexico where you get picked up, taken to your hotel, fed, and allowed to sit on the beach doing much of nothing. There was no safety net, no one you could reach out to, no one you could ask for help. Being a stranger in a strange land is just that. It’s not as though we could have gone to the Romanian consulate to ask for assistance.

There was no buffer, no backup plan, and the only thing we had to go on was the assurance that God would be with us wherever we went, and that was enough. That’s the thing. People assume that when God says He will be with you throughout your journey, it means it will be easy, all sunshine and lollipops, with not a cloud to be had or a storm to be weathered. That was never the promise. Easy was never in the contract.

God promised He would see you to your destination and be with you throughout your journey. He never said He would make it carefree and blithe. On the contrary, we were told that in this life we would have tribulation and suffering, but like with so many of the parts we don’t like in the Bible, we chose to ignore it, then turn around and grow bitter at God for not carrying us to heaven on a pillow of clouds with cherubs playing harps as we lounge.

God kept His word. Through all the trials and hardships, the fair-weather friends and the betrayals, the ups and downs, He was there, He was faithful, and we never ended up on the streets. We always had something to eat, even if it wasn’t Kobe or Wagyu.

It’s odd to look back and realize you never felt poor even though you were. I think that’s the secret to having a heart of contentment and being able to glory in any situation: not seeing yourself as others might, but as God does. Even though my grandma sowed my pants, and the first store-bought clothing item I ever owned was after I got a job when I was twelve, I never felt inferior or less than.

We put too much stock in how the world sees us and spare no concern for how God does. All that should matter is how God sees you. If He sees you as His son or daughter, if He sees you as one whom the blood of His Son has redeemed, then nothing the world can say should affect you negatively.

Another thing that helped mold my convictions and how I view the world is that even when things started going well and the ministry was up and running, it was never about us but always about others.

We lived in the same two-bedroom apartment for thirteen years and ran the ministry out of it as well. It was easy when my brothers and I were small, but we grew, as did the ministry, and by the end of it, it got pretty cramped. Even so, no one complained, no one was morose, and the work was done with gladness and joy because it was an honor to be used by God to help others.

Most of the problems we think we have can be fixed by how we see our circumstances. A trial is just an opportunity for God to show His power and faithfulness. It is not something we should be fearful of but something we should embrace, knowing that the testing of our faith produces patience.

Those who’ve always had it easy will never appreciate the value of overcoming hardship. Those who’ve never had to believe God for anything will never know the pure joy of seeing the fulfillment of His promises before their eyes. Yes, my childhood was difficult; the early years in this country were hard, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. They made me the man I am today and facilitated the building of my faith to the point of knowing that nothing is impossible for those who believe.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

God promised He would . . . God kept His word . . . All that should matter is how God sees you . . . the blood of His Son has redeemed . . . an honor to be used by God . . . for God to show His power and faithfulness . . . believe God

Yes, a proper perspective of God makes all the difference! Thank you for this reminder.