Bob Tamasy: Coping With The Perplexing Perils Of Prosperity

  • Monday, March 4, 2024
  • Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

We all have experienced difficulties in many forms – financial struggles; health challenges; ongoing family conflicts; emergencies occurring at absolutely the worst possible times; working hard toward a desired goal only to see it elude our grasp and never come to fruition. But tough times build tough people, right? Out of necessity, we learn how to cope with adversity.

But what about prosperity? How good are we at dealing with times when everything seems to be going well?

That might seem strange to ask. We love the good times. To borrow the musical stanza from the Ira Gershwin opera, “Porgy and Bess,” what’s not to like about “Summertime, when the livin’ is easy”?

But in reality, the way we handle and process prosperity might be a greater and more accurate test of character than adversity. Because during hard times, unless we simply give up, we do whatever it takes to survive and make it past the crisis. We turn on our internal survival mechanism and shift into high gear. Prosperity, on the other hand, can trigger positive or negative responses.

There are countless stories of people who fought hard to reach the heights of their vocation – including entertainers, athletes, business executives, politicians, other public figures – only to suffer tragic tumbles from grace. They couldn’t handle success. Sadly, this has proved true as well for some who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ.

Reading a devotional by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great British preacher of the mid-to-late 1800s, brought this to mind. Referring to a statement by the apostle Paul, Spurgeon observed:

“There are many who know ‘how to be abased,’ who have not learned ‘how to abound.’ When they are set on the top of a pinnacle, their heads grow dizzy, and they are ready to fall. The Christian far more often disgraces his profession in prosperity than in adversity…. The crucible of adversity is a less severe trial to the Christian than the refining pot of prosperity…. When (Paul) had much, he knew how to use it. Abundant grace enabled him to bear abundant prosperity.”

Spurgeon was referring to Philippians 4:12, in which Paul told of having to “learn” how to deal times when he was prospering, both personally and in ministry. He wrote, “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Another translation expresses the apostle’s sentiments a bit differently: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

Throughout history people have wrestled with what we might term the “peril of prosperity.” Throughout the Old Testament we read about the Israelites, God’s chosen people, who cried out to the Lord in times of distress only to give Him little thought when things seemed to be going smoothly. Despite their religious rituals, they lived as “practical atheists,” until the next calamity reminded them of how desperately they needed to rely on God. They were abominably slow learners.

In a collection of proverbs in the Bible, written by someone known as “Agur son of Jakeh,” we read this cautionary request: “…give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:8-9).

Another verse in the same Old Testament book also notes how difficult it can be to deal appropriately with success and acclaim: “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives” (Proverbs 27:21). Apparently, we learn to pass this test with time and experience.

During times of difficulty many of us are quick to turn to God, pleading for His intervention and resolution of our problems. But how many of us are equally eager to acknowledge and humbly deflect to Him any praise we receive when things “couldn’t be better” and all seems right in our world? Are we prepared to pass the “test” then?

* * *

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is btamasy@comcast.net.

Church
United Methodist Conference Draws Hundreds To Chattanooga This Week
  • 4/15/2024

Nearly 500 women from the southeast region will meet at the Chattanooga Convention Center to elect officers, organize for mission work and discuss how they can help other women and children. ... more

Bob Tamasy: Be Careful About What You Think You're Entitled To
Bob Tamasy: Be Careful About What You Think You're Entitled To
  • 4/11/2024

When you hear the word “entitlement,” what comes to mind? Like a lot of words in the English language, it carries a variety of meanings. It can amount to an “if A, then B” or “if this happens, ... more

Middle Valley Church Of God Service, Sermon Titled 'How Do You React When You Meet A Dead Man?'
  • 4/10/2024

Middle Valley Church of God, located at 1703 Thrasher Pike in Hixson, Tennessee, announces that Pastor Mitch McClure will be preaching on Sunday, April 14, in the 10:30 a.m. service. McClure ... more