Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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Why Does Life Seem Unfair at Times?


Meditation for the week of July 12, 2009

Psalm 37:3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

This Psalm and Psalm 73 both deal with the question of why the righteous seem to have it so bad and the wicked seem to have it so good.  The righteous are those who trust in the Lord and do good.  The wicked are those who prosper by doing wrong.  The wicked man does not see that he is accountable to God and disdains Him (see Psalm 10:13).  However, the Psalmist in both cases realizes that at least in the short-run the wicked SEEM to be better off than the righteous.

Shouldn’t a righteous God bless the good people and punish the bad people?  Job’s three friends assumed that is the way God works.  However, Job who is righteous, suffers.  So the book of Job raises the question, “Why do the good suffer while the rest get by with murder?”  Job lost his wealth, his family and his health and it was not because he had sinned.  God made it quite clear that he had not.  But his three friends all assumed that he had because they thought Job was being punished and that God would not punish the innocent.  They thought that Job just needed to confess what he had done and God would again bless him.

In Luke 16 there is a rich man who had it all his own way—until he died.  There was also a beggar who had nothing in this life—until he died.  Then he was carried by the angels into a place of bliss.  What was the difference?  The passage does not tell us but the rest of the Bible does.  The rich man forgot about God in this life and the beggar trusted Him. 

In Psalm 37:25 David says that he had never seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging food.  I believe we can count on the Lord to take care of our basic needs just as he tells us in the sermon on the mount.  If he takes care of sparrows, will he not take car of His own?  But nowhere are we told that life always goes well for the righteous.

The Lord Jesus was righteous.  He was innocent of any wrong doing.  He healed the sick and raised the dead.  He went about doing good.  He even paid his taxes without complaining, yet he died a death that was filled with sorrow, reproach and pain.  He died as a criminal.  He is a case of the righteous suffering while the wicked prosper.  Barrabas was a robber and a murderer and one who rebelled against authority.  Yet he was released and the Lord was crucified.  Is that justice?  Was that fair?

So why do the righteous often suffer while the wicked seem to prosper?  For one thing the righteous have a conscience that the wicked do not have.  So they cannot do a lot of the things the wicked do. 

We also forget that the Lord likes to show the angels and Satan that there are people who trust Him.  It is easy to trust Him when we know what is happening and when things are going well, but real trust is seen when we are walking a path we didn’t expect and experiencing a life that is not in our comfort zone.  Job was witnessing to Satan that not all people worship God for what they can get out of it.  Angels observe our meetings according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:10 they need to see a people who are trusting the Lord and who express it by their obedience even if they don’t fully understand why they are doing what they are asked to do. 

In both Psalms, when the short run view is taken, life seems unfair.  When the Psalmists let go and let God work out his long run plans, things make sense.  It is quite clear that those who turn their back on God will suffer for it in eternity and in some cases they suffer for it now.
So what does God want from us?  He wants us to trust Him and do good even when everyone else seems to be prospering from wicked schemes.  We need to realize that even if God’s big plan doesn’t seem to be working for us we are to trust Him.  We are to do what is right whether it seems to be the right thing to do or not.  God should be able to point to us just like he did Job and He should be able to say, “See there is one who will be trust me no matter what you do to him.”

Bruce Collins

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