Most people desire to be prosperous and live prosperous lives. In our culture we often reduce prosperity to being materially or financially prosperous-the more one possesses or the greater the ability to be a consumer, the more one is viewed as being successful.

One of the dangers of this notion is that it creates an environment in which people believe that their value and worth are based on the number of possessions they have; the more you have, the more valuable you are. I cannot begin to tell you how many people I have met in my life who believe that what they are and who they are is defined by their material prosperity. It saddens my spirit to see persons who feel as though they have no inherent value and, in an attempt to find meaning, significance and worth, try to shroud themselves with tangible, temporary and decaying items that they believe will give them eternal significance.

Still, what may be even worse are those who believe that their material or financial prosperity is a sign of the presence of God in their lives. This dangerous assumption would therefore suggest that a lack of prosperity might signify the absence of God’s presence. For these persons, situations like poverty and homelessness are viewed as an indication that God has retreated and that one’s life has become a citadel for desolation.

This kind of thinking has led countless people in hot pursuit of material wealth in an attempt to demonstrate that they have divine favor. Unfortunately, this line of thought can prove tragic. Life cannot be lived fully if one believes that materialism is the order of the day. There are things in this world that are so much more important than material acquisition. For most of us, sanity, joy, love, peace and happiness are truly priceless. Furthermore, the lack of prosperity, fruitfulness or productiveness does not automatically mean divine abandonment. It may be that those moments in our lives when we feel impoverished, unproductive or fruitless are simply an indication that we have not yet come into our season. We cannot reduce that season to simply being one of material or financial breakthrough.

In Psalm 1, the writer declares that trees planted by streams of water will yield their fruit, but only in their season. What a powerful revelation! How many times have you looked at the fruitfulness or prosperity of others and grown envious and jealous? How many times have you wondered why everyone else seemed to be doing well but you weren’t? It may just not be your season right now.

In the winter, the tree does not deliberate over whether or not its season will come, because the tree knows that temporary moments of barrenness are not tantamount to death. The tree is patient because it knows that its season of blossoming and flourishing is on the way! Patience is the lesson we learn from the tree. The focus cannot be fruitfulness or the lack thereof; the focus ought to be on whether or not we are planted by streams of water that give life. Life cannot be defined by material things that wither, fade away and ultimately perish. Life must be defined by life, not death. The tree planted by streams of water will always yield fruit. Make sure you are planted and lean towards life!