Suffering Is Apart of the Christian Journey: Reject the Prosperity Gospel
I've been reading the gospel of Luke and the first passage that jumped out at me is the plight of Zechariah and Elizabeth. The Bible states that they were both righteous before God, obedient to the commandments, and blameless. Luke 1: 6. Yet, they had a desire that was not met. They wanted a child, but was not able to conceive. Eventually, in their old age, the Lord blessed them with a child. He did so in His timing and in His own way. While I know they enjoyed the blessing, I also know they experienced the pain of waiting. I also believe at some point they gave up. They resolved that they would never have a child.
I remember Hannah who I believe was suffering from depression. She was not eating, she was crying all the time and her heart was grieved. Even she described herself as "a woman of sorrowful spirit." 1 Sam. 1:15. She was grieving because God had not granted her request to have a child. Like Elizabeth, God granted her request, but in His timing. The Lord also granted this request without them having to sow a financial seed.
While we can certainly celebrate God eventually granting both requests, they had to endure the process. I know they experienced pain while waiting. I'm sure they questioned why God was allowing this to happen. The truth is, we will have trials and tribulations in our lives. We will have problems as Christians. Jesus warns in John 16:33, "...In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Jesus didn't say you may have problems; He informs us that it is certain.
James encourages us to "count it all joy when you fall into various trials." Why? It is because "the testing of your faith produces patience." James 1:3. The trials in our lives can help develop our character. It helps make us more like Christ. It helps us grow closer to Christ. It helps us to rely on Jesus. The Lord tells the Apostle Paul that His "strength is made perfect in weakness." 2 Cor. 12:9. I believe God does His best work in and through us when we are weak and totally reliant on Him. It is a part of the process.
Let us not fall for the prosperity gospel and let us allow the sufferings that we endure to shape and mold us into the likeness of Christ. Like Elizabeth and Hannah, God will grant our desires in His timing. Or, maybe He has a different plan for us all together. But most importantly, "our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Rom. 8:18. This is not our home. God will certainly do great things for us on earth, but one day we will be in paradise. "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Cor. 4:17.