The Missionary Life and the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ Lie

Missionaries aren’t immune to the siren songs of comfort and ease.

“And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:4 ESV)

Trials are designed to bring about maturity.

James purposed to lead his readers to a correct response to trials. He commanded them to count it all joy (1:2) because trials provide two advantages: steadfastness (1:3) and maturity (1:4). James also gave the command to embrace the weight of a trial to receive the full effect.

The full effect of a trial makes one perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Perfect does not mean free from faults and defects or free from sin. It means fully accomplished or finished. Perseverance in the face of trials brings about spiritual maturity and gives evidence to it.

God in his sovereignty allows His people to experience suffering. Trials are not random. They have a purpose and a progression. Trials produce perseverance. Perseverance produces maturity. By allowing this, God forms and shapes his people into the image of Jesus Christ.

After all, Jesus is the absolute example of suffering. The writer of Hebrews stated that Christ was perfected through it (2:10). This does not mean that Jesus was imperfect. Hebrews affirmed he was sinless (4:15). But again, perfect carries the idea of completeness. In His incarnation, Christ’s humanity developed and matured through the process of suffering. God wants to perfect us too.

Contrary to the “prosperity gospel,” suffering is a part of following Jesus. And missionaries are not exempt from it either. They regularly meet trials of various kinds. Taking the gospel to the nations requires a biblical understanding of suffering and trials as well as a preparation to endure it when it comes.

Places in Southeast and Southwest Asia are well acquainted with suffering. Peoples have been displaced and scattered from their homes due to torrential rains that produce mass flooding. Diseases like cholera and malaria run rampant. Poverty stretches as far as the eye can see. And many of these people have never seen a church, a bible, or personally met a follower of Jesus.

Missionaries serving in these places wrestle with personal suffering, the suffering of those they serve, and the false teaching exported from America that says, “God doesn’t want you to suffer but wants you to be healthy and wealthy.” Oh, we need to pray.


“Heavenly Father, help me to remember that suffering is part of the Christian experience. Protect me from false teaching and poor thinking on this subject. Please uphold the missionaries who serve in places where suffering is widely seen.”

Prayer Requests for South Asia:

  1. Pray for the Lord to send more missionaries to South Asia.
  2. Pray for our missionaries in this region who are battling cancer and health issues.
  3. Pray for the gospel to be practiced and proclaimed amid the trials.
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