There’s a lot of debate among Christian spheres regarding suffering and prosperity. We can learn a lot about God’s intent for believers from the book of Job. Job was an upright, God-fearing man, whom God delighted in. God not only loved Job but also trusted Job’s faithfulness. God allowed Satan to destroy Job’s livelihood, his family, and his health in order to prove that Job’s steadfastness rested in God Himself and not in the prosperity he had bestowed upon Job.
To Job’s friends, it appeared that Job was guilty of grievous sin for God’s hand to depart from him in so many capacities. Job’s friends continued to admonish Job to repent of this great sin. They repeatedly assured him that those who do good prosper and those who do evil will fall into despair. However, Job rebukes his friends. Job reveals that prosperity and suffering are not dependent upon us, but upon God alone. Job states that, at times, prosperity may follow evil and suffering may follow faithfulness. He reminds them that this too is from the Lord. In reference to this, Job asks in Job 12:9, “Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?” Since God is in control of both prosperity and suffering, it would be a great misunderstanding of his word to believe that the Christian is meant merely for suffering or merely for prosperity. We are meant to fulfill the will of God for His glory, however He sees fit.
Paul speaks to this truth, as well. Paul knew what it was like to abound and to suffer great tragedy, all for the sake of the Gospel. In Philippians 4:11-13, Paul states, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Paul’s focus wasn’t on the suffering or the prosperity. Paul’s focus was on being content in any season God called him to. Paul understood that God could use both suffering and prosperity in different seasons for Paul’s good and God’s glory. Because of this, we can focus on seeking the will of God and trusting that God is sovereign and good regardless of the season He’s called us to.