The Anxiety of Prosperity Theology

I often hear people say, “If God is going to bless us, we must believe fervently without any doubts that God will bless us. We must claim our blessing with full assurance that we will get it.” But we don’t see that here, nor do we see that attitude in other places in the Bible. Think of all the greatest servants, from Abraham to Joseph to David to Jesus himself who often prayed and did not get the answer they sought. If we say, “I know you will answer this prayer, God. You can’t not answer it”—then our confidence is not really in God’s wisdom but in our own. As a pastor, I have heard countless people say, “I trusted God, and I prayed so hard for X, but he never gave it to me. He let me down!” But to be more precise, their deepest faith and hope was actually set on an agenda they had devised for their lives, and God was just a mean they were deploying to get to that end. At best, they were trusting in God-plus-my-plan-for-my-life. But these three men [Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego] trust in God period.

The “I just know he will rescue us” kind of approach may seem confident on the surface, but underneath it is filled with anxiety and insecurity. We are scared that maybe he won’t answer the prayer for deliverance. But Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego really believed “all the way down” to God. So they were not nervous at all. They were already spiritually fireproofed. They were ready for deliverance or death—either way, they knew God would be glorified and they would be with him. They knew God would deliver them from death or through death.

–Tim Keller, Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering, pg. 231

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