The day my son got in an accident, we planted a corn “field.” What I mean by “field” is five corn stalks to a row, three rows total. Not long after the accident, when the man cub was still in the hospital, the corn began to spring up, but then a hail storm came and appeared to wipe it all out.
I know that’s what you’re asking. But our eldest grandchild planted the corn with his Poppy, see, because corn on the cob is his faaaaavorite food that doesn’t contain sugar, and he asks for it all the time when he’s visiting. So we thought it’d be fun to plant a little, partly to teach him where corn comes from, to learn patience, and to learn reward for hard work. So the answer is … we care!
After the hail came, I was pretty sure there wouldn’t be any corn. Still, I watered. I weeded. I re-positioned the stalks so they would be stronger and grow upright.
Finally, the corn grew taller than me, and I’m a good three inches taller than five feet – on a good day.
But then ….
More hail tonight. Also violent wind and rain.
All my plans for prosperous corn, gone once again. The leaves on the stalks are shredded. The silk, too. The stalks are barely standing.
What a helpless feeling when all you can do is stand there and watch all your hard work, nurturing, and excitement get hammered on and washed down the drain, quite literally. Three weeks ago, I was rejoicing, because both the corn and my flowers that were destroyed in the first hail storm looked to finally be on the up and up.
“If we could get just one or two meals out of it, just enough for the grandboy to enjoy it a little, that would be good enough for me,” I told Poppy a few weeks ago. Now it’s doubtful we’ll get anything.
Where about all those plans to prosper me, God? I work hard, and You bless, remember? That’s how this works, right?
That’s what the prosperity gospel preachers would say. God’s only plans are to prosper us, and if we’re struggling, maybe we don’t work hard enough or have enough faith. Or maybe (more likely) we need to give more money to the church – whatever church they happen to pastor, most of which goes to them personally, as evidenced by their private jets and mansions.
The true Gospel says that the Lord will prosper us spiritually, and whether we prosper materialistically is beside the point. Through Jesus, we are told we have all we need. That He is sufficient. Whatever trials and tribulations we endure on earth are not necessarily indicative of the depths of His love for us. His love is not shown in nice cars, big houses, or a few ears of corn. It’s found in Christ: His birth, life, death, and resurrection. And if our corn gets destroyed (by a minute natural disaster sovereignly sent by God), or our house gets burned to the ground accidentally, or our health gives way? God is still prospering us, though it may feel and look as though He’s slaying us.
“I’m so blessed!” And with that proclamation is a picture of a new car, a healthy family, or a newly purchased house. Maybe even a tall, robust corn field or a fun date night. But those things are more likely a result of hard work, and the good fortune of living in a country where those things are possible to attain. God has given us all things richly to enjoy. So if you’ve been given gifts, whether they come by blood, sweat, and tears, or through charity or some other means, rejoice! I’m not trying to put a damper on fun and fortune. I’m just saying maybe “blessed” isn’t the best use of words.
I mean, is the person who has to ride a bike to work, three miles there, three miles back, in the snow, uphill both ways “blessed”, too? Because whether it’s snowing and uphill or not, it feels like it is both – and -10 degrees to boot. Does God not love those who struggle as much as those who are fortunate?
Only if you believe the prosperity gospel. But there aren’t any Scriptures to back up that kind of false gospel. The truth is, whether I bike or walk or ride in a luxury car, I am a great sinner, in need of an even greater Savior. I have failed. I have broken the Law and missed the mark of righteous perfection required by God to have a relationship with Him. All of my righteousness is as filthy rags. On my own, no matter how hard I work, I cannot earn favor with God. But God sent His Son, Jesus, to come to earth, to be born of a virgin, to die in my place as a sacrifice for my sins, to be buried for three days, and to rise again on the third day in triumph over sin and death. If I confess my sins, He is faithful and just to forgive me of those sins, and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Christ then becomes my bridge to God, so that I might have a relationship with Him, now and for all eternity.
Nothing can ever take that away. Not fire. Not flood. Not failed health. Not those who can (and sometimes do) kill the body but not the soul. Not weakness of any kind. Not droopy corn or difficult bike rides. Nothing can ever separate me from the love of God.
The Gospel, then, says that whatever our social status, whatever the status of our garden plot and bank account, health, etc, we are blessed, simply because He is ours and we are His. That’s the meaning of true blessing and prosperity.
I’m grateful that no matter how depleted my strength gets, or how poor I become, or how much misfortune I endure in my lifetime, I can consider myself prosperous. Because what makes a person truly prosperous or poor is a spiritual matter. What Christ has done for me is what deems me blessed … regardless of my earthly circumstances.