There’s this silly thing floating around out there in the Christian sphere known as the “prosperity gospel.” Come to Jesus, they say, and all of your problems will be over! You’ll have money, you’ll have influence, you’ll have blessings… because Jesus is good!
While it is true that Jesus is good, His goodness is not defined by flimsy, temporal, Earth-bound stuff.
(Besides, do we really want a God who is defined and limited in His grace by our meager understanding of what’s good?)
Jesus’s goodness is defined by joy, hope, and a life made abundant by spiritual blessings (John 10:10).
But sometimes, we tell God that’s not good enough.
Yes, the prosperity gospel is just… silly. But so are the lesser versions that we often buy into.
In John 16:33, Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Jesus did not promise us ease of circumstances, but He did promise that He is mighty and that He is good.
Yet am I the only one who has questioned God for not providing in ways I expect — citing my current obedience as reason that He should give me the food, money, time, energy, etc. that I say that I need?
When it comes to our finances, this is something Benjamin and I struggle with again and again.
A Peek Into Our Finances
Benjamin and I moved here to Casa Grande in December. We knew that this was where God was calling us to be. And while it was rough in the beginning, we managed to buy our first little home. Benjamin got a job at our church. And I started teaching my sister.
Everything seemed to be coming together. We praised the Lord for His amazing goodness. Who were we to doubt that God could make all of this happen? we thought as we started cheerfully
Then a few months passed.
We realized our bills were higher than we had budgeted for. We were expecting a baby and unable to get insurance, no matter how hard we tried. Benjamin’s job paid well, put it was only part time. My job technically didn’t pay at all.
Things got tight, and we started to doubt.
We are following Your plan, Lord! we said. Why aren’t You providing what we need?
And then, we had insurance! People donated baby supplies! We got a refund from the doctor’s office!
We were on a spiritual high again. Sorry for ever doubting You, Lord! we said.
Up and down, up and down went our faith based on what stuff God was providing for us right then. His love and provision had been reduced to terms of money and possessions.
In other words, we had become no better than those who tout the lies of the prosperity gospel, even if it was on a lesser scale.
Fighting My Own Prosperity Gospel
I hadn’t even realized the line I was crossing when I thought about my finances. I knew God said He would provide, but I had created in my mind my own definition of what that meant. Then, I expected God to meet it.
That’s just not the truth.
In Isaiah 55:9, God says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Trusting God means putting my life in His hands to do what He wants with — even if that means an entirely different design than I had in mind. When we decide to step out in faith, even financially, that means letting go of control of what the outcome might be.
Psalm 37:4 says,
“Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
That’s the secret. Delighting in the Lord — not in this life, not in being in control, not in necessarily having a plan (or having life follow that plan). More than just acknowledging that God is wonderful, it is filling yourself up with His Word, immersing yourself in prayer, and becoming more and more like His Son. It means taking everything in life and seeing it through His eternal perspective, putting Him above all else in every moment.
And then, as that verse says, our very desires will all be changed as God transforms our hearts. And when our hearts align with God’s, we will be able to more fully see where He is working… and blessing.
So What Now?
I don’t want to limit my faith. I don’t want to put God’s blessings in a box or to so easily doubt Him when we are struggling.
I want to acknowledge that these struggles were allowed by Him. I want to better align my heart with His so that I can see where He is at work. I want to see God moving beyond just material possessions as I watch Him provide what is needed in His timing.
John 16:33 —“…be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”