Why does the Lord seem to bless some of the faithful with prosperity? It seems that others who are faithful and also pay their tithes and do what they’re asked seem to find failure in business opportunities and employment. All they are only wanting is to provide for their families. Yet no matter what they do they barely get by while others seem to have the Midas Touch?
Thank you for this insightful question, which I propose, a question many fathers have pondered themselves. My heart and mind immediately ponders the drastic difference between two fathers I know, and how each father loves the Lord, serves the Lord faithfully and to their best ability, while one is successful and the other has struggled financially and experienced much heartache in this endeavor.
In scripture we are informed, via metaphor, of God’s love confirming he is no respecter of His children (3 Nephi 12:45),
45 That ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good.
As a second witness we are given further witness of his love and respect for all his children (Matthew 5:45),
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
In light of these scriptures Joseph Fielding Smith once declared,
“You know, we have a great many members of the Church that ponder that over in their hearts and wonder why. Why this man seems to be blessed with all the good things of the earth—incidentally, many of the bad things that he thinks are good—and yet so many members of the Church are struggling, laboring diligently to try to make their way through the world.
The answer is a simple thing. If I sometimes, and once in a while I do, go to a football game or a baseball game or some other place of amusement, invariably I will be surrounded by men and women who are puffing on cigarets or cigars or dirty pipes. It gets very annoying, and I get a little disturbed. I will turn to Sister Smith, and I will say something to her, and she will say, “Well, now, you know what you have taught me. You are in their world. This is their world.” And that sort of brings me back to my senses. Yes, we are in their world, but we do not have to be of it.
So, as this is their world we are living in, they prosper, but, my good brethren and sisters, their world is coming to its end. …”
However, these scriptures and Joseph Fielding Smith’s words point to a difference of two drastic character types: good vs. evil (just vs. unjust). The question proposed compares good vs. good (faithful vs. faithful), and why are some “favored” while others appear to endure unanswered prayers and fasting for success in their vocational endeavors.
In connection with this, we read in scripture (Jacob 2:18-19),
18 But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.
19 And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.
In light of this, it would be an easy temptation from the adversary to whisper unto a faithful, struggling father, “Scriptures specify those with ‘hope in Christ’ obtain riches, if they seek them… then why aren’t you rich? Do you not have ‘hope in Christ”? As such, possibly, increasing an already struggling heart and mind with the thought, “I am not important, otherwise, the Lord would have heard my fasting and answered my many prayers.”
Why then, if God is not a respecter of persons, would his favor of financial success be upon some and empty for others? In honest, truth Ryan, I do not know the answer to this question, and I don’t think we will know (with a perfect knowledge) until we stand before our God and experience once again His love in person. In the Old Testament, the Adversary even recognized God’s favor on behalf of some of his children (Job 1:9-10),
9 Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
In this situation, even Satan doesn’t seem impressed by Job’s righteousness for he had received all the favor of God in all that he did – the Midas Touch. We also know, there were many fathers during this time struggling also to make a decent living while Job had everything.
In contrast, we are also informed of a different type of favor in the life of Joseph who was sold into Egypt. Joseph was beloved of his father Jacob. Jacob favored Joseph above all his other children — due to his obedience. However, Joseph would soon experience great hardship, as his brothers conspired against him causing Joseph to live many years as a slave. Despite this, we read from scriptures (Genesis 39:2-3, 5-6):
2 And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
3 And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand.
5 And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake: and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.
6 And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand…And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.
How many young fathers, any individual for that matter, would think they were “well favored” of the Lord as a slave — wrongfully enslaved? If this wasn’t favor enough, we later read that Joseph, to not offend God, was thrown into prison, falsely accused, and yet we read again (Genesis 39:21, 23):
21 But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
23 The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper.
What prosper might one find as a slave in prison?
As I further contemplate your question, I am reminded of the conversation Nephi had with an angel and how the angel asked (1 Nephi 11:16-17),
16 Knowest thou the condescension of God?
By which Nephi responded,
17 I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.
The condescension of God is lovely wrapped up in this verse (John 3:16),
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
A gift given to all who believe and follow his way, truth, and life.
As Jeffrey R. Holland shared in his talk this past General Conference,
“Furthermore, I do not know all the reasons why the circumstances of birth, health, education, and economic opportunities vary so widely here in mortality…” This one thing I do know, all who are faithful in this life to the gospel no matter their circumstance (humble or affluent) will receive all the Father hath (D&C 84:33-42).