What It Means to Prosper
I know that as you pray for me, and as the Holy Spirit helps me, this is all going to turn out for my good (Philippians 1:19, TLB).
Sometimes I think that today’s “prosperity preachers” have hijacked a legitimate biblical term. After all, God does want His sons and daughters to prosper. But what does that really mean? That you’ll never get sick? Never have problems? Never run out of money? Never have strains in your relationships? No, that is not what the Bible means by “prosperity.”
Five years before making his journey to Rome, Paul wrote to the believers there and said in Romans 1:10, “Making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.” In other words, “Hey, would you guys pray for me? I’m coming your way. And pray that the Lord gives me a prosperous journey by the will of God.”
Did God answer his prayer? Yes. He did make it to Rome and had an amazing ministry there of preaching, teaching, discipleship, and writing. He just hadn’t understood that getting to Rome would mean false accusations, arrest, incarceration, and chains. He couldn’t have foreseen that it would involve hurricane-force winds at sea, shipwreck on an island, and the bite of a poisonous viper on the way.
The reality is that you can live a prosperous life in the will of God and still face fierce personal conflict and adversity. Paul went through a shipwreck on his way to Rome, but he had a prosperous journey by the will of God because of what it ultimately accomplished.
Facing storms and shipwrecks in our lives really isn’t a matter of if; it is a matter of when. So it’s time for us to get our sea legs under us. Rather than trying to avoid the storms of life, we need to learn how to get through them, how to survive them, and how to learn the lessons that we can only learn in such times and such places.
It has been said that you can’t direct the wind, but you can adjust your sails. In other words, I can’t control all the elements of my world—or even very many of them at all. But I can control my reaction to them. I can adjust my sails—and adapt.