“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5).
Back up in the hills several years ago the mountain folk pondered a mystery that has vexed mankind from the earliest days. Their musings produced a gospel standard that is sung at camp meetings everywhere. “Tempted and tried, we’re oft made to wonder why it should be thus all the day long. While there are others living about us, never molested though in the wrong.”
Indeed, why do the righteous suffer, and the wicked prosper? Surely you’ve wondered as much from time to time. The only solution those Tennessee highlanders could come up with, still remains the only answer anyone can give to this very day, “Further along we’ll know more about it. Further along we’ll understand why. Cheer up my brother; come sing in the sunshine. We’ll understand it all by and by.”
Job, in bitterness of soul, pointedly asked, “Why does God let evil people even live? And not only live; but live well. They grow old and prosper! No calamity comes to their homes.” (see Job 21). Yet. he wisely concluded, “But who are we to tell God how to run his affairs? He’s dealing with matters that are way over our heads” (21:22, The Message).
Jeremiah took a more tactful approach, and appealed directly to the Lord, “You are right, O GOD, and you set things right. I can’t argue with that. But I do have some questions: Why do bad people have it so good?” (Jer.12:1, The Message).
The Psalmist Asaph, in the typical self-disclosing style of all poets, put it this way, “When I looked at the prosperity of the wicked I became envious. They aren’t troubled like other people or plagued with problems like everyone else. Why then should I even try to be righteous?” (see Psalm 73)
We’ve all been there in one way or another from time to time. Life for most of us usually moves along at a pace that’s marked with a routine and rhythm – until something happens that sets us back. A tragedy, a heartbreak, a defeat, a disappointment; failing health, financial loss, relational stress, or a thousand other things that fall like Niagara into our lives without any warning. We sigh, cry, cuss and fuss, groan or moan; shaking our heads at the problem, and sometimes our fists at God.
But wait a minute! God is on our side. King David, a man after God’s own heart, put it in the clearest of terms. “Fret not thyself because of evildoers,” he wrote, “neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:1-5).
Trust. Delight. Do good. Commit. Relatively simple steps, with profoundly significant results.