I don't believe I've ever been a part of a church that preached a prosperity gospel, so I'm not 100% sure what falls under that umbrella, and I don't think it's a good use of my time or mind space to read up on a false doctrine when I could just be reading the Word. But I've sensed and been influenced by a wave in the opposite direction that I believe rose up in response to the prosperity gospel, which talks about suffering often and at length. I refer to it as the opposite, the suffering gospel. It seemed to be weaved into every sermon and every song, by multiple pastors, churches, and leaders. The message was not to waste the suffering in our lives, because God ordains it as an opportunity to grow and become more like Christ. After all, there are many verses that call us to patiently endure suffering and assure us that God will work all things together for our good. If you're thinking that nothing sounds wrong with that, (which I don't necessarily either) than hang on and hear me out for a minute.
What if you heard that in every sermon every Sunday? What if all the "famous" pastors were saying the same thing, and you trusted them? What is you saw how God brought good, and maturity out of the suffering of others that you slowly and subtly started to believe that suffering was the ultimate sign of maturity and holiness? This is the spot I was at after being immersed in the suffering gospel for many years, until I was hit with some suffering of my own. This time, it was trickier to identify, because on the outside it might of looked like I WAS KILLIN' IT in life. Nothing actually changed in my circumstances. But on the inside my world had fallen apart. The nutshell version of it is this: long standing, unresolved issues in my heart and life created a big foothold for the enemy to come in a do what he does best: lie, accuse, intimidate, confuse, doubt, fear, seduce, guilt, and shame. I had a massive wounding in my heart and I have a massive calling on my life and I couldn't go forward with both. If I was really going to go for it with my calling, my heart needed healing. And thus I entered a long process of inner healing, deliverance, freedom, and realizing what Jesus really purchased for me when He died on that cross and rose from the grave victoriously. That could be a whole blog post (or book) of it's own but the point of if here is that I was definitely suffering. But in the culture I was in, I was so heavily under the influence of the suffering gospel that I'd forgotten that Jesus wanted me to live victoriously. He wanted to deliver me from the enemy and give me an abundant life. I wasn't even sure how to wear the armor of God, what warring in prayer was, how to discern the will and heart of God for me on the matter, how to demolish strongholds, and how to discern enemy activity and engage him in battle, instead of thinking that everything bad happening to me (internally) was a result of my sinful flesh.
It all came to a halt when I realized I couldn't get free and live in ongoing victory and stay in the suffering gospel culture. If I was going to get a breakthrough, I needed to be around people that believed Jesus wanted a breakthrough for me more badly than I did. And it came, although I stayed in the wilderness a lot longer than necessary because I believed God wanted me there. The Holy Spirit taught me how to live in peace, wear the armor, pray from victory for victory, discern what God is doing and partner with him in accomplishing that. He healed my heart and made me new. I still have giants to slay, but they're the giants in the Promised Land and not the wilderness.
"Suffering" is a broad word and covers so many different things that happen in you or to you. I absolutely DO NOT think that when we come to know Jesus that everything will be comfortable and easy and he'll get you a new car. But I do think that what we misdiagnose, we will also mistreat. If we do not know how Jesus responded to the people who suffered in the bible (I'd suggest you read the gospels and see how He responded to someone who is suffering in the way you are), that we cannot discern how He would responded to us as well. Jesus suffered the cross and all that he endured on the way (the ultimate suffering), suffered persecution, laid his reputation on the line, didn't have a place to lay his head at night, was left by his closest companions, was misunderstood, had a broken heart over people, and was so stressed that He sweat his own blood. He also healed everyone that came to him, delivered people from demonic influence or possession, made a way for us to be right with God and victorious through Him, forgave sins, taught his heart out about what it's like in the Kingdom and manifested what the Kingdom is like wherever He went.
I've had to contend with both ways of suffering (in and outside of God's will for us). My concern is that many people are trying to suffer well with things God wants to set them free from. My concern is that we've swung so far to the opposite extreme of the prosperity gospel that we've embraced hellish situations that break God's heart. My concern is that we've forgotten that the cross didn't just forgive our sins, but the resurrection power empowers our victory. My concern is that we've forgotten how to fight, how to get free and stay free, and have made ourselves doormats for the enemy to come in and kill, steal, and destroy we're not sure what to embrace and what to fight. My concern is that we've become complacent with going from mess to mess instead of from glory to glory.
This is a conversation I want to continue to talking about and equipping you with. This link (http://lindseyfalls.com/blog/2016/2/15/resources-for-spiritual-victory?rq=victory) is a post I wrote a while back might be a good place to start. (Sorry- hyperlink isn't working and I want to get this out!)