Sunday, August 31, 2008

Further Along We'll Know More About It

"Why do bad people have it so good?” (Jeremiah 12:1, The Message).

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?” (Jeremiah 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)

But then Asaph concludes with his sobering discovery of what awaits those who breeze through life without God's correction of their course -- "When I thought how to understand this, It was too painful for me — 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. Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors." (Psalm 73:16-19).


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