When abba Macarius was in Egypt, he found a man who had brought a beast to his cell and was stealing his possessions. He went up to the thief as though he were a traveler who did not live there and helped him to load the beast and led him on his way in peace, saying to himself, “We brought nothing into this world; but the Lord gave; as he willed, so it is done; blessed be the Lord in all things.”
Someone brought money to an old man and said, “Take this and spend it for you are old and ill,” for he was a leper. The old man replied, “Are you going to take me away from the One who has cared for me for sixty years? I have been ill all that time and I have not needed anything because God has cared for me.” And he would not accept it.
Once abba Aresenius fell ill in Scetis and in this state he needed just one coin. He could not find one so he accepted one as a gift from someone else, and he said, “I thank you, God, that for your name’s sake you have made me worthy to come to this pass, that I should have to beg.” Daily Readings with the Desert Fathers
I do not interpret these stories to mean that god wants us to be poor but that true riches come from within and not from material or physical strength. This is what it means to have true poverty. In the eyes of the desert fathers, it’s a blessing to be poor because that’s god’s way of confirming we are capable of it. These monks are depending on a source of love and guidance within them to provide for their needs and not their own abilities or circumstances.