“Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel, the health and wealth gospel, or the gospel of success) is a Christian religious doctrine that financial blessing is the will of God for Christians, and that faith, positive speech, and donations (possibly to Christian ministries) will increase one’s material wealth.”*
Dr. Willard states that in recent years, “innumerable spokespeople for God have offered ways we can use God and His Bible as guarantees of health, success and wealth.”
In short, Dr. Willard is not enamored with people who preach the prosperity gospel.
It is more than that though; he is not willing to say that Christian believers will be exempt from trouble. Job 14:1 “Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble.” 2 Timothy 3:12 “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Here are two Scriptures that say otherwise about the topic of trouble.
In short, Dr. Willard is not enamored with people who preach that Christians won’t go through trouble.
No one bypasses problems. Dr. Willard refuses to call belief in God a “spiritual panacea”. In fact, he goes further and says “any voice that promises total exemption from suffering and failure is most certainly not God’s voice.”
However, we do live life and work through problem after problem with a source that can help us with our trouble. That source is God.
But Christians go through the “mill of life” just like anyone else.
Before I became a believer, I watched Christian people a lot. I watched them go through trouble. Now as I think back on what I saw, I wondered about their demeanor.
How can they continue to carry on?
How can they function in their work?
How can they have some sense of hope?
The answer to all three questions?…
They were not of this world. They lived in this world but they were experiencing a different life, a spiritual life that was connected to an eternal power.
I have had my share of trouble for the past nineteen years. I have not always had it easy as some severe problems have showed up on my doorstep. Early on, I felt the need to grow through my troubles.
What does this mean?
Trouble does not last forever. It passes. Some like to quote the Bible and tell us that “This too shall pass” regarding trouble but that phrase is not in the Bible. It has a grain of truth in it though because trouble does not last forever. As time passes, trouble does too.
Trouble teaches us hard lessons. Some people repeat the same mistake over and over and they never learn. I am one of those people that when I touch a hot stove, I don’t have to touch it again and again. I remember not to touch it after I get burned once.
Trouble allows us to help others. When we experience trouble, that experience can be turned into valuable advice that we can share with others. I have had problems in my past that uniquely equip me to help with problems that other people have. I am not proud of my problems but I can speak from first-hand experience about some pitfalls that others may have found. I have been there.
As Christians, we know that we will all have a time to experience no trouble. That time will be when we go to heaven. We know we have glory awaiting us in heaven and we must ever keep our eyes upon that goal no matter what we have to face in this world.
But while we are here on earth, it is important to remember that God does not promise you prosperity if you give to a preacher on tv, promising that you need to sew a seed for Jesus. The seed will cause you to reap a bountiful harvest a hundredfold more than the seed you have sewn.
It is important to remember that God will never promise a life that is exempt from trouble. I heard a Christian say, “if trouble is not present in your life right now it was recently and if not recently, it will be here soon.” Problems are just a part of living.
In the context of Hearing God, if you think God is telling you these kinds of things, think again.