I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden

I suppose this title could be a lead in to an article on suffering, but I’ll spare you the “pain” for the moment and open a conversation on something else too many professing Christians struggle with. There are two main reasons believers battle with what I am about to discuss. One reason is a “buy-in” to popular teaching which distorts the word of God and presents a view that is very appealing, positive, promising and twisted. A second reason, more troubling and fundamental than the first, is an issue of trust. So many of the impediments to our healthy faith experience are rooted in partial trust, which may be no trust at all, and partial obedience, which clearly is not obedience at all. 

My question for you is this: What does prosperity mean to you? Take a minute. Compose your thoughts. P-r-o-s-p-e-r. For me, to prosper means ……. What is it in your life that you desire most to flourish, to thrive, to prosper? For many Christians and “nons,” the first thing that comes to mind is money. Financial security. No, not eternal security, but financial as in 401K’s and retirement resources. The Apostle John has a word of well-wishing for us in 3 John 1:2 as he says “Beloved (insert your name), I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” Certainly there’s nothing wrong in considering personal health as a priority, but you do note John adds something else of importance?

When Jeremiah spoke for God to the Israelites, he indicated God had plans to bless them, to prosper them. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Not too shabby. Here under the umbrella of “prosperity” we see God’s protection and the provision for hope as well as a future in relationship with Him. Were these on your definition list as well as health and soul prosperity?

In approaching his last days, King David had critical instruction for his son and heir, Solomon. “When David’s time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.”  (1 Kings 2) Do you have a sense of personally “thriving” in life through living an obedient life to God, keeping His precepts and giving Him pleasure through your devotion to Him?

Today, in the midst of an unexpected pandemic, only man is surprised. God was not. Our concerns, and I might as well say “potential” anxieties, focus on two very real aspects of life. They are our physical health and our economic well-being. As the spokesmen of God’s word cited above, God, in His concern for us and His sovereignty, is most adequately capable of “prospering”us through situations like this pandemic and much worse. Yet He is concerned about our hearts. From a physical standpoint, He knows how our hearts are “ticking” as sure as He know the number of hairs on our heads. In a greater sense, though, God’s focus is on the attitude of our hearts and what motivates them.

To God, I am certain, money, our accumulation of wealth and possessions and our provision for retirements, are lesser things in His span of concerns for you and me. He has promised to be our provision (Jehovah Jireh). He is what and who we are to count on. Not the things we store for security on this earth. He is the ultimate arbiter between what we need and what we want or covet. He yearns for us to be rich in Him, and from that type of response He is eager to “open the windows of heaven and pour down for us a blessing (prosper us in ways He sees fit) until there is no more need.” (Malachi 3:10) Good health can cover a wide spectrum of things. So too, does the prosperity of our souls. Think About It.

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