I'm thinking about how things usually get worse before they get better and how that just flies in the face of the prosperity gospel. In the prosperity-minded churches, (which I happen to think is the very vast majority) your spiritual maturity is measured by how comfortable you are materially and/or how free of problems your life appears-- If you are sick, you are sinning; if your marriage is on the brink, you are sinning; if everything keeps going wrong, you are sinning; if you have little to no money, you aren't right with God; if you are not doing what they are doing, you aren't walking with God; if you don't look so hot, you must be struggling spiritually.... I'll tell you WHAT makes people really struggle-- it's all the damn judgement they get for not "measuring up" to these superficial standards. It gets poor folks wondering, "God, where are you...?" And He is indeed hard to find in this climate.
It's really sick when you think about it. Even most "conservative" churches will say they don't preach such nonsense. Well they may not, but with their practice their words are made completely void. Then, devoted church people wonder why they are anxious and confused. Well, it's because what they are being told doesn't match what they see or experience in any real way, and deep down they know it. And so confusion is bred...
The good thing about it is that as the confusion gets worse, many people start looking for truer answers and really start turning more to God. They stop depending so much on being spoon fed everything and being told what to do. They start wanting to live outside this sick box. And the more they seek truth, the more alienated they will feel from their most devoted fellow church followers and leaders (in this dysfunctional system).
There is a difference between following God and following the church. There really is.
Bottom line, though, is we are a deeply prosperity-minded nation... prosperity is our God and we've neglected our families, our children, our friends, the sick, the elderly, the poor, the down-beaten and our very own souls, all for that all-American dream of comfort and wealth. Yuck. Look at the state we are in. If we were truly a "Christian" nation (and there is no such thing) then we wouldn't be in the state we are in. When will we stop following the stupid dream, that isn't real in any sort of way. When, oh when? Has this kind of "prosperity" brought us any real joy?! No. We are a sick nation. When I first came to live in the US as a 12 yr old from Argentina, I really noticed the difference in how competitive and image oriented everyone was (even as a 12 yr old I saw it in my friends who were way too "grown up" for their age). It definitely seemed a much colder place than back home in so many ways... and it affected me negatively in many ways also.
I don't hate America. I do hate this mentality, though. But for all I know it' s all over the world.... (to one degree or another, I'm sure) I KNOW there are good people out there in this land, but they are usually the "nobodies," the downtrodden, the wounded, the foreigners, the "struggling" ones that are judged to be "not walking with God." God forbid a Jesus-follower should be sad or even confused or seeking a new path. God forbid-- it will make the whole thing look bad. And if these people seek a new path outside the church walls and they are struggling, well it's because they left of course, or because they have no church "home"!! ( I'm completely being sarcastic!!) Unfortunately, I've been guilty of some of this thinking in the past...
Still, I know people do need support and community. But not a cookie cut system where you fill forms and shuffle around like cattle from meeting to meeting with no time to really breathe... no time to really share life together. I don't think this is what Jesus had in mind when he came to save us. He came to save us from this!
What is real prosperity...? Isn't it love, joy, peace.... First it is love; and what is love? Certainly not the charade that is going on these days. We are repeatedly told to settle for this kind of "love." And desperate people take it, thinking it's all there is....Well it's not. God is MORE and He is better than all this and we know it.
I don't want to sound too negative. I believe love is there in the unnoticed kind deeds that go on from person to person, life to life, in the everyday-- time spent; a meal offered; a sincere prayer, a non-judgemental listening ear, a helping hand, a kind note, shared tears... it's in the things that happen tangibly from person to person, eye to eye, hand to hand, soul to soul.