Why do the righteous suffer?
I’ve been pondering and wondering and thinking and…you catch my drift: Why exactly do bad stuff happen to good people while the bad people are just chilling. I mean…CHILLING? Why? Now, in reference to this blog post, ‘good people’ refers those who hearken to both biblical/moral codes of living whilst bad people are those who don’t.
A friend of mine (Bola*) had once raised this with me and I quickly took it to my Pastor who pointed me to Psalm 37 which starts with “1 Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. 2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb.” He also mentioned Psalm 73. I’d have to put up the entire passage.
Psalm 73 (ESV) – 1 A Psalm of Asaph. Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. 5 They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. 7 Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies. 8 They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. 9 They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth. 10 Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them. 11 And they say, “How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
12 Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. 13 All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. 14 For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. 15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children.
16 But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, 17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. 18 Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. 19 How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! 20 Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms. 21 When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, 22 I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you.
23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. 28 But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.
These passages are quite clear: although some ‘evil’ people are presently lounging, their day of reckoning waits them. Now, I’m beginning to wonder if I fully grasped the meaning of the psalm.
In my twenty-five years on earth, I have seen what Bola is talking about clearly and I am sure so many of you guys would be able to attest to its truth. She said to me, “Temi, see people who blatantly ignore God’s word enjoying, they are have all the good things of life, marry and have children on time, travel to exotic places on first class, live in the best homes, afford whatever they want without blinking an eyelid. Their children go to the best schools and even end up studying abroad”. She went on and on. As tempting as it is to categorise her lamentations under ‘ENVY and JEALOUSY’ and quickly refer to Galatians 5, I do think it is worth really thinking this issue through and asking ourselves, ‘why are the wicked people enjoying and the righteous suffering?’.
For today’s post, I focus on wealth. 3 John 1:2 states: ‘Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth’ and in fact, the Bible is replete with God’s promises and even expectations that as believers, we live in not just riches but wealth and abundance (Psalm 23:1, Psalm 112:1-3, Proverbs 3:10, Proverbs 10:4, Proverbs 10:22, Isaiah 48:17, Isaiah 62:7, Malachi 3:10-11, John 10:10, Romans 3:16, Romans 5:16-17, Romans 8:15-17, II Corinthians 8:9, II Corinthians 9:6-11, Galatians 3:1-29, Galatians 4:1-6, Galtians 6:7-8, Ephesians 1:12-21, Ephesians 2:10, Hebrews 4:3-11, I Peter 5:7 )
Look at Abraham, he had so much to his name. David was a big boy by every standard and Solomon, hmmn, let’s leave that one’s wealth for another post. So the point is this: God is not a poor-minded God. He provides for His children lavishly. So why do you go for some big conventions, the Mountaintop (ori oke), retreats and the same people who have been coming for the past 10 years praying hard for prosperity are still coming…and guess what: nothing has changed. They still live from hand to mouth, etc. Another person may argue that as much as the Bible had examples of rich people, there was also cases of good but poor people-there was the lovely widow who was going to eat her last and die, there was Lazarus and the rich man, the list goes on.
From all these, I think one thing is incontrovertible: it is possible to love and obey God and be poor and it is possible to love and obey God and be rich…very rich. So do we have a choice in life or are our fortunes written by some gods? Can poverty be fought? How does one fight it? How do you choose how you want to live and have your choice? Are there certain steps to take or avoid? Back to my opening question, are there therefore some basic principles which are no respecter of one’s state of morality/christianity? Could it be that even those who don’t love God, when they obey these laws, reap its fruits? Is this fair?
What do you think?
Muse with me!