Just before the children of Israel entered the promised land, Moses shared with them a song. In the song, he expressed sorrow for the fate of future generations:
But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.Deuteronomy 32:15
The word “Jeshurun” in this passage refers to the children of Israel. It means “the upright one” or “the righteous one.” The passage draws a sharp contrast between the obedience of the people in their poverty and their complacent neglect of God in their prosperity.
In 1833, the Lord noted a similar pattern among church members in Missouri, this time in reverse:
In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but, in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me.Doctrine and Covenants 101:8
The prophet Mormon described this phenomenon as a universal tendency:
At the very time when [God] doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.
And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.Helaman 12:2-3
Does prosperity always lead to complacency? No, but we have to be intentional about maintaining our good habits, including our habits of personal worship. If we stop doing the very things which led to prosperity, why would we expect the prosperity to continue? Sustainable growth requires sustained effort over time.
Today, I will continue to rely on “the Rock of [my] salvation.” I will turn my heart to God, heed His counsel, and remember Him.