God is not glorified when we keep for ourselves (no matter how thankfully) what we ought to be using to alleviate the misery of unevangelized, uneducated, unmedicated, and unfed millions. The evidence that many professing Christians have been deceived by this doctrine is how little they give and how much they own. God has prospered them. And by an almost irresistible law of consumer culture (baptized by a doctrine of health, wealth, and prosperity) they have bought bigger (and more) houses, newer (and more) cars, fancier (and more) clothes, better (and more) meat, and all manner of trinkets and gadgets and containers and devices and equipment to make life more fun. They will object: Does not the Old Testament promise that God will prosper his people? Indeed! God increases our yield, so that by giving we can prove our yield is not our god. God does not prosper a man's business so that he can move from a Ford to a Cadillac. God prospers a business so that 17,000 unreached people can be reached with the gospel. He prospers the business so that 12 percent of the world's population can move a step back from the precipice of starvation.
Everyone was always hungry. The poorer you were, the hungrier you were, and with the hunger came weakness and irritability. It became difficult to think clearly and you needed to think clearly to work out how to survive the next day, how to get food. You were sure you could still work if you could find work, and you could look for it if only you could eat. But how were you going to get food, for yourself, for your children, for your wife or husband, for your parents? There were simply too many people within those walls for the calories that were let in. How were you to get food when there just wasn't enough of it? What were you going to have to do? With hunger of this severity came fatigue, a weakness that transcended tiredness and permeated your sinews and bones. As your limbs got ever lighter, they felt progressively heavier with each new day.
Trudging on foot, loaded with sacks, bundles, and babies, young mothers who had lost their milk, driven out of their minds by the horrors of the journey, abandoned their children, shook the corn out of their sacks onto the ground, and turned back. A quick death, they had decided, was preferable to a slow death by starvation. Better to fall into the clutches of the enemy than to be torn to pieces by some beast in the forest.
A little after moonrise Stephen woke. Extreme hunger had brought on cramps in his midriff again and he held his breath to let them pass: Jack was still sitting there, the tiller under his knee, the sheet in his hand, as though he had never moved, as though he were as immoveable as the Rock of Gibraltar and as unaffected by hunger, thirst, fatigue, or despondency. In this light he even looked rock-like, the moon picking out the salient of his nose and jaw and turning his broad shoulders and upper man into one massive block. He had in fact lost almost as much weight as a man can lose and live, and in the day his shrunken, bearded face with deep-sunk eyes was barely recognizable; but the moon showed the man unchanged.
North Korea is a famine state. In the fields, you can see people picking up loose grains of rice and kernels of corn, gleaning every scrap. They look pinched and exhausted. In the few, dingy restaurants in the city, and even in the few modern hotels, you can read the Pyongyang Times through the soup, or the tea, or the coffee. Morsels of inexplicable fat or gristle are served as 'duck.' One evening I gave in and tried a bowl of dog stew, which at least tasted hearty and spicy—they wouldn't tell me the breed—but then found my appetite crucially diminished by the realization that I hadn't seen a domestic animal, not even the merest cat, in the whole time I was there.
No fear can stand up to hunger, no patience can wear it out, disgust simply does not exist where the hunger is; and as to superstition, beliefs and what you may call principles, they are less than chaff in the breeze. Don't you know the devilry of lingering starvation, its exasperating torment, its black thoughts, its sombre and brooding ferocity? Well, i do. It takes a man all of his inborn strength to fight hunger properly. It's really a lot easier to face bereavement, dishonor, and the perdition of one's soul than this kind of prolonged hunger.
No fear can stand up to hunger, no patience can wear it out, disgust simply does not exist where the hunger is; and as to superstition, beliefs and what you may call principles, they are less than chaff in the breeze. Don't you know the devilry of lingering starvation, its exasperating torment, its black thoughts, its sombre and brooding ferocity? Well, i do. It takes a man all his inborn strength to fight hunger properly. It's really easier to face bereavement, dishonor, and the perdition of one's soul than this kind of prolonged hunger.
The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.