One by one, the small-group participants shared heavy prayer requests: a lost job, a cancer diagnosis, a broken relationship. Though I was fighting to actively listen, my mind was scrambling to find something hard to share. After all, no one wants to hear a Pollyanna after such a litany of hardship.
As those around me were being tossed in the storms of adversity, it felt strange to be sitting beside still waters. I blushed at the abundance of God’s undeserved blessings in this season. We had recently purchased a new house, our children were thriving at a new school, and the Lord was blessing our endeavors in work and ministry.
God sends both seasons of hardship and seasons of prosperity. Christians know that we should strive to be faithful in difficult times, but it is just as important to be faithful in the good times.
Here are three ways to steward your prosperous times well.
1. Climb up the Sunbeam
In order to best receive seasons of prosperity, we must do the hard work of distinguishing between the gift and the Giver. While good gifts are intended to be enjoyed, they’re also meant to bring us to deeper knowledge and worship of the King who shares his abundance freely.
In Letters to Malcolm, C. S. Lewis aptly describes the arduous work of moving beyond acceptance of the gift to adoration of the Giver:
Gratitude exclaims . . . “How good of God to give me this.” Adoration says, “What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!” One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun.
God’s radiant nature emits sunbeams of his grace. Rather than merely lazing in the warmth of such rays, we’re invited to climb up the sunbeams back to the sun, from whom every good and perfect gift comes (James 1:17).
2. Build for the Future
Every time the Lord blesses our family with calm and peace, I think of King Asa. Following a series of horrible kings, God blessed Asa’s obedience with a season of remarkable peace and prosperity. After years marked by disruptions and raids on every side, the land rested. But Asa went to work:
He built fortified cities in Judah, for the land had rest. He had not war in those years, for the Lord gave him peace. And he said to Judah, “Let us build these cities and surround them with walls and towers and gates and bars.” (2 Chron. 14:2, 5–7)
While seasons of adversity are marked by efforts to maintain, seasons of prosperity ought be marked by efforts to advance. Just as Asa invested his decade of peace to strengthen and grow his cities, we’re invited by the Lord to strengthen our own souls, households, and spheres of influence.
In seasons of plenty, we have a chance to dig more deeply into theology, spend more time in prayer, and build up relationships. Seasons of adversity will return, and we want to be physically, spiritually, and relationally ready to not only survive them, but even to thrive.
3. Invite Others into Blessing
God made clear the purpose of his blessings to his people millennia ago, as early as his call to Abram: “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (Gen. 12:2).
God blesses us so that we might bless others, even those beyond the fold of faith.
If he has blessed you with a season of rest and abundance, invest it by serving those who are currently being whipped by the whirlwind. Your paycheck bonus could be someone else’s groceries; your free afternoon could be someone else’s childcare; your extra car could be someone else’s ride to work. Even your energy—refreshed by the Lord’s abundance—can uphold someone else’s sagging arms by prayer.
Next time you find yourself trading prayer requests—whether you’re in the midst of a storm of adversity or sitting beside a sea of prosperity—you have no need to blush. Embrace and invest the season the sovereign Lord has apportioned, knowing that both storms and stillness are tools in his hands.