“What grace is meant to do is to help good people, not to escape their sufferings, but to bear them with a stout heart, with a fortitude that finds its strength in faith.” St. Augustine, The City of God, Book XXII, Chapter 22
Often I wonder if Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyers, to name a couple of today,s popular “preachers” have even heard of, much less read, the likes of Augustine (and, honestly, the likes of the Bible). I would much rather call these and others like them “good motivational speakers” than preachers of the message of Christ. Yes, as Augustine had just said moments earlier, “It is true that, even in this life on earth, through the intercession of the saints we have many holy comforts and remedies.” But he continues “Nevertheless, such favors are not always given to those who ask – lest such favors be mistaken for the real purpose of religion.”
While we do not have to fill every sermon with fire and brimstone nor picket at every event that those who don’t believe exactly the way we do are “headed straight for hell” and go so far as to self-righteously claim “God hates you” as we see from other would be “preachers,” it would be good for us to remember the story of Job, for example, and not expect that God’s love means that “God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us.” (Osteen)
Certainly think He wants us to “fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us” but dare we presume it is earthly fulfillment? The health and wealth Gospel preaches the exact City that Augustine’s City of God is the contrary of. We don’t need to look merely at Job and other Old Testament figures. We need not even look at martyrs like Stephen, Peter, and Paul.
“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!” (Phil 2:8)