How do I not live in fear when God does not promise health and wealth?

suffering
mattmittelberg
prosperitygospel

(Victoria Tanner) #1

I’m not sure this is the right kind of question for here, if not I apologize. I’ve read a lot of Q&A articles by Dr William Lane Craig and he explains how the Bible doesn’t say anything about God promising us a good life and also how God doesn’t owe us anything. This has affected me kind of badly. I grew up believing that I could trust God to help me and that he would keep me from having a horrible life. I now live fearfully just waiting for the next disaster to happen.
I’m confused on what kind of help to expect from God in life, how much should I rely on Him. If God doesn’t really do anything to help us isn’t this a more deist way of looking at life? What do all the verses mean when they say to trust God and rely on Him when he doesn’t actually do anything to help? Or we pray but we don’t actually know what things are from God or not, and horrible things are going to happen no matter what. I appreciate any insight. Thank you.


Ask Matthew Mittelberg (February 5-9, 2018)
(Matthew Mittelberg) #2

Hi Victoria! Thank you so much for your thoughtful question and for sharing your heart on this issue. This is a big topic, but I’ll do my best to shine some light on it.

First, I don’t know the specific comments you’re referring to, but my guess is that Dr. Craig was addressing the false teachings of “prosperity gospel” teachers who say that becoming a Christian will guarantee us wealth and health. The Bible certainly doesn’t promise this, and in fact it does say that as Christians we must be ready to stand up for what we believe in, even in the face of adversity. Additionally, we don’t deserve anything from God because we’ve sinned against him but God decides to bless us anyway because his love for us is so great. Romans 5:8 explains this when it says “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

How should we respond to this? I think first we should have a perspective of gratitude. God loves us! Even though we’ve done nothing to deserve his love. We are like orphans adopted into a gracious family, and showered with blessings.

But what about the suffering we go through, and will continue to go through, in this life? Christians are given the privilege of a completely unique perspective on this—we have hope. One of Jesus’ most repeated statements in his life was “Do not fear.” And this is not just a commandment; God gives us the way to do this. A few examples from Scripture:

In Romans 8:18 the apostle Paul says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” This is incredible! Any pain we experience here cannot even be put into the same category of the glory that we are going to experience. Christians have a hope of a future where all is put right, life and light is restored. This is our destiny, and we can rejoice in it. Paul reiterates this in 2 Corinthians 4:17 when he says, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

This is a radical way of looking at suffering. We don’t have to live in fear, but in confident hope of the future that is promised to us. Not only that, we know that God is with us in our suffering here and now. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles…” God hears our prayers, and he comforts us and walks with us.

Jesus taught this as well. In John 10:10 Jesus said "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” He wants us to live a life of confidence, knowing that he will be with us during the hard times and is preparing for us a future that is greater than anything we can possibly imagine. In John 16:33, he sums all of this up, saying: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

One more thing: don’t forget that as God’s beloved followers, he hears our prayers and promises to respond to them in ways that are good. That doesn’t mean we always get what we want—but sometimes that’s a good thing too. Part of trusting God, though, is trusting that he knows what’s best for us, and will respond to our requests in ways that are ultimately a blessing. And, yes, prayer really does change things!

I hope this is helpful to you, Victoria! Please feel free to ask a follow-up question, but I also wanted to recommend a little book called The Case for Hope by Lee Strobel. It goes a lot more in depth into this subject, and how we can live our lives with the hope of knowing God is with us.


(Kay Kalra) #3