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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Why do the Wicked Prosper?


Do you happen to remember the question, “Why do the wicked proser?”  It originates with the prophet Jeremiah, in chapter 12 of his book.  The passage actually reads:  
Righteous are you, O Lord,
    when I complain to you;
    yet I would plead my case before you.
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
    Why do all who are treacherous thrive?  (ESV)

It seems to me that, very often, this is the kind of question one asks during the process and aftermath of divorce, and holidays such as Christmas or Thanksgiving can often bring to the forefront this very issue.  One party may find themselves extremely financially strapped and really feel it during the holiday season, while the other party seems to go merrily on their way, even though their behaviors have been sinful or vicious.  One party may struggle with children who seem clueless about how abusive the ex had been, and find that the children continue to favor a parent who has been “wicked,” if you will.  One party may be frustrated as the judge rules time and again against him or her, when they know the requests are more than fair and that the other party is not being honest with the judge.  One party may find that honesty turned out to not be the best policy, and judge, friends, children, or even other family members have been taken in my the various misrepresentations promulgated by the ex.  

During the holidays, when family celebrations are the norm and memories of better days swirl around those family times, one can struggle with the justice of God when facing the holidays with a family splintered, divided and wrestling with a court mandated schedule.   These are just a few examples…many of my readers could add many other scenarios based upon their own life situation.  It can be very hard.  And it certainly can lead one to wonder with Jeremiah, “Why does the way of the wicked perish?”

The answer to the question is given multiple times in scripture:  you aren’t seeing the whole story.  We often take a short view of things, but when you take a longer view, then you will realize that God is ultimately working perfect justice, some of which you may not be able to see this side of heaven.  In addition, we must always remember that we are only seeing things from the external perspective.  From that perspective, it may appear everything is wonderful for that individual you think is prospering, but you cannot see the hidden hurts of their lives, or the struggles that may be there of which you are not aware.  In some cases, their hearts may be weighed down with a load of guilt and shame that is not obvious from the outside, a load that anything but fun to carry.  

Probably the best answer of all came from the lips of Jesus, when Peter was informed of how his life would end, and in response he asked Jesus, “What about John?”  Jesus response was, in effect, “What happens with John is between me and John….your job, Peter, is to follow me.”  You can read it yourself in John 21:18-23.  The point is, to effectively deal with the hurts and move on in our lives, we need to not worry about what is and isn’t happening with someone else, nor spend our time comparing with others, but simply follow Jesus the best way we know how, in the paths he leads us.  Then, we trust that he will do what is right and just, and that is enough.

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