California is not just the largest state in the Union because of its borders (at least for the Lower 48) and population, but specifically for the largest population of welfare recipients.
Despite the Republican-backed welfare reform package that President Bill Clinton signed in 1996, and despite the steep drop in welfare cases in the Golden State, California still had to shoulder the largest burden, in which one third of national welfare recipients live under the banner of the Brown Bear.
What is it about welfare that is so insidious, ultimately?
In a recent Associated Press report, one claimant argued that California is gutting the most effective parts of the welfare program, which had enabled many down on their luck to receive training and job placement.
The plight of one recipient underscores the real issue:
"I know that I can do it, but it's hard, and especially when you're doing it all on your own," she said. "The program you did have is getting cut now, so it's only going to be harder."
For a forlorn single mother, or a disabled veteran, or a child shuttled from one foster home after another, the despairing sentiment of facing everything alone can be very biting and grating.
For the believer, though, this sentiment is a demonic falsehood, only exacerbated by handouts that breed man-centered dependence instead of God-dependence.
"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (Hebrews 13:5)
If the Lord will never leave us nor forsake, than what are we afraid of? For many who trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, they are convinced that He will not help with all other needs.
The Bible rebukes such unbelief soundly:
"What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8: 31-32)
and of course:
"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19)
Yet why are so many Christians not seeing any victory over poverty and lack in their lives? Condemnation, in that they do not believe the eternal forgiveness which they have received through the blood of Christ, or unbelief in the promises which Jesus Christ has declared and fulfilled in His blood.
Regarding condemnation, it is essential for every believer to know the fullness of the riches of righteousness that they have in Christ. Paul prayed the following for the Ephesians:
"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
"The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints" (Ephesians 1: 17-18)
Regarding unbelief, the prayer of a desperate father teaches us what we must do in the face of unbelief:
"Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
"And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." (Mark 9: 23-24)
This Help is still with us, in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, who lives in every believer who has declared that Jesus Christ is Lord (cf 1 Corinthians 12:3):
"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
"And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." (Romans 8: 26-27)
"So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." (Hebrews 13: 6)
Are you worried that your unbelief is marring the work of the Holy Spirit in your life? Do not be dissuaded by the limitations of your flesh, but keep seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness in your life (cf Matthew 6:33):
"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." (Romans 14:17)
Seek what the Lord has already given you (cf Luke 12:32), walking in the calm and confident faith of what you have, and the rest shall be added unto you!
That's a lot -- nay an infinite storehouse more -- than a welfare check!