If one wanted to make a Biblical argument for what’s commonly called “Prosperity Gospel” (and plenty do), all he or she needs to do is select the blessings and ignore the woes. They can lift up the “If/then” passages of the Bible – if you do this, then you will be blessed – while ignoring the scriptural evidence that life is more complex than computer programming. If Genesis, Job, and Ecclesiastes don’t make the case for the unpredictability of blessings and woes, check out just two of Jesus’ comments on the subject: Luke 13:1-5 and John 9.
One’s difficulties in life are not always tied to their failures of faith and devotion, just as one’s successes aren’t always the results of their deep faith and devotion. Life in an imperfect world includes accidents, mistakes, unforeseen outcomes, and sin. It also includes grace that is as needed as it is undeserved.
When God promised to bless Abraham (Genesis 12:2) it was in order to be a blessing. Jesus’ pairing of blessings and woes (Luke 6:20-26) was to remind both those who hadn’t known much observable blessing and those who had that God was still with them. When those, like me, who have been very blessed to know riches and fullness and happiness and respect are reminded that these are temporary, but God is eternal and that these are to be shared because of who God is, then the woes have done their job and the blessings (regardless of how prosperous they make us) will follow.