Feeling Left Out? Wrestling With God's Fairness

“Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped.  For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:1-3).

For centuries, God’s children have faced trials both severe and, at times, troubling. Perhaps their greatest trial is the inward anguish they feel when they behold injustice. On the one hand, they know God promises to overthrow the wicked. For example, we read in Proverbs that:

“What the wicked dreads will come upon him, but the desire of the righteous will be granted” (Proverbs 10:24).

On the other hand, they see the opposite played out before their very eyes: the wicked seem to prosper. In order to make sense of this, we need to determine why we feel this way. Notice in the last verse what occurred. First, the Psalmist “saw” that evil people seem to prosper regardless of their behavior. He knows something about the general truth that God will overthrow the wicked and establish justice. Knowing this, he begins to envy their condition. It causes him to compare God’s Word with what he sees with his eyes. The two do not seem to agree. How can we reconcile this?

1. Recognize God’s Word always comes true, but we do not always read it correctly. God does promise to vindicate the righteous and punish evildoers, but not always immediately. In faith the child of God reads the promises and then must trust God to bring them to fulfillment. It’s up to God and His wise counsel when all this occurs.

2. We need to distinguish between a general truth and some special cases. For example, Abraham and his sons followed God and were rewarded; Job followed God and suffered. For wise and holy reasons, God does allow this to happen. However, if we looked closer at the texts, Abraham and his sons suffered at times, and Job prospered for a good portion of his life.

3. Ultimately God’s Word will be fulfilled just as He spoke it. Though the proud and arrogant of this world may succeed for a season, they will finally face God for the deeds performed in this life. The godly, too, will be rewarded, but with blessings and not punishment.

Does it pay to serve God? It depends on what one means by “pay.” It may not make us rich or famous, but God will take care of His own and never leave them nor forsake them (Hebrews 13:5). Keep trusting God day by day, He will reveal all things in the world to come, and swiftly vindicate the righteous (Luke 18:7-8).

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