Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. (Psalm 37:7, NKJV)
I have an acquaintance who gets a little upset when God doesn’t zap (her word) someone she feels deserves to be . . . well . . . zapped. I suppose she feels God has been too good to someone who (she thinks) is just too sinful. I just smile. Even if someone is really wicked, should I really suggest to God that He send a bolt of lightning and kill them?
This lady’s rant reminded me of an age-old question. Why do the wicked prosper? Why does God allow them to achieve success and wealth while others living righteously struggle? Shouldn’t God bless the good people and destroy the wicked? Some who lived long before us asked these same questions.
- The psalmist asked, “LORD, how long will the wicked, how long will the wicked triumph?” (Psalm 94:3, NKJV).
- Job questioned God’s provision for them. “The tents of robbers prosper, and those who provoke God are secure—in what God provides by His hand” (Job 12:6, NKJV).
- Jeremiah complained because of their prosperity and happiness. “Righteous are You, O LORD, when I plead with You; yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?” (Jeremiah 12:1, NKJV).
Psalm 73 tells of one man’s struggle when he viewed the wicked’s prosperity, their pride and corruption, their oppression of others, and their disregard for God. Asaph listed quite a number of offenses. Then in verse 13, he went so far as to ask himself, “Did I do all this for nothing?” In our words, he was saying, “Is it even worth it to live for God?”
Things you have experienced in life may have caused you to doubt as well. How do you feel when you see those around you—the ones who never darken the door of a church — do so much better than you?
- Why does God allow that cursing, crude, rude neighbor to drive a shiny new car while my clunker is on its last gasp?
- Why was I passed over for a much-deserved promotion at work while the guy who surfs the internet half the day is rewarded with the advancement?
- Why do others have money for fancy clothes and lavish vacations while I outfit my children from thrift stores and struggle to pay my bills?
Perhaps your situation is different than the above scenarios, but you still have questions. You serve God wholeheartedly. You pay tithes, support missions, and teach Sunday school. You work hard, don’t cheat on your taxes, and pay your bills on time. But perhaps, like Asaph, you are a little envious at what others have and wonder why God doesn’t give you more.
Finally, Asaph understood! His discovery will help you also.
“Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction.” (Psalm 73:17-18, NKJV)
Walking into the house of God, Asaph realized the end of the story was yet to come. Yes, others may prosper in this life, but everything they achieved is temporal. God has allowed them a period of grace to turn to Him, and then comes the reckoning. Don’t envy them; pray for them.
(Suggestion: Read Psalm 73 to follow Asaph’s journey from envy to understanding.)