The above quote - "If you're in trouble, or hurt or need - go to the poor people. They're the only ones that'll help - the only ones." - comes from John Steinbeck's novel Grapes of Wrath. Now granted, I don't believe they are the only ones, but this quote does ring true fairly often.
I have a couple friends in my small town who have very little - sometimes less than I have, sometimes a little more. And anytime I am in need, they're the first ones reaching out. I have a couple friends who tend to get depressed quite a bit - and often, or more so, as depressed as I can get. And yet anytime I am down and need to know someone cares, they're the first ones reaching out.
My own children have very little, especially when it comes to money. Yet, those rare times when they do have money - even if only enough to buy their own lunch - if a friend of theirs is without, they'll give up their money, or at least split it.
Should We All Be Poor?
There are times in the Bible where rich people are told to give away all their possessions. There are times those who don't have a lot are told to leave behind what little they do have. Does God want us all poor people, depending on handouts from others? In some of these lessons, it does appear that way. In Luke 6:20, Jesus even says "Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God."
But I don't think that's the message. God doesn't want us all poor. He wants us all to be like the poor - willing to give away all we have to help another; willing to understand that it is not the possessions we own that make us special, but rather the love we have from God, and the love we give others in the name of God; willing to understand that we don't need possessions, but rather that we need God, and we need the love of others.
What Does it Mean to be Poor?
I think we all can understand that poor is a sign of lack of financial wealth. But there is more to it than that. A similar verse to Luke 6:20 can be found in Matthew 5:3 - "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." This verse basically states the same thing, with the exception that it shows that "poor" is not necessarily a status of financial well-being, but also of spiritual and emotional well-being. As a wise man recently told me in regards to this verse - "Even the drained, exhausted, skeptical have a portion of the kingdom."
Like the lack of financial wealth, a lack of spiritual and emotional strength does not lower us in God's eyes, but rather lifts us. And, like those lacking financial wealth, it is often those poor in spirit who are the first to reach out to others also poor in spirit. Or, those who have been there, and understand what it is like to be emotionally spent, depressed, exhausted. And again, God isn't calling us to all be poor in spirit, but rather for us all to recognize our need for Him and others, and for us to recognize that even when we feel we have nothing to give, we always have His love to strengthen us and to spread to others.
The kingdom of God is for each of us - when we have no clothes on our back, no food in our stomachs, and our hearts are weary, the kingdom is still for us, and God's love is still with us.