By Alex Florez
While Book III contains threads of hope, it is often labeled as the “dark” book of the Psalter because of its focus on lament.
Perhaps the most common question I receive from my young Bible students (second perhaps only to “What’s the deal with dinosaurs?”) is one I believe most people ask at some point: Why do bad things happen to good people?
In the last three years, they’ve begun asking a new question: Why do good things happen to bad people? It would appear that cheating, lying, and sidestepping rules to accelerate success all seem to be permissible in our world, perhaps even tacitly encouraged.
The observation that nastiness, pettiness, lawlessness, and lasciviousness seem to be rewarded in our world fills me with despair. What’s the point of hungering and thirsting for God’s righteousness if the world responds with mockery, derision, and even persecution? If following hard after Jesus and His values pushes me to the margins and alienates me from the inner circles of prosperity and achievement, is it really worth it?
When arrogance, pride, malice, and greed beget notoriety, prosperity, and influence, we become perplexed, frustrated, and jaded. We begin to wonder if God has forgotten about us. “His eye may be on the sparrow,” we reluctantly confess, “but He must not have His eyes on me.” The psalmist Asaph affirms my bewilderment: “When I tried to understand all this, it seemed hopeless” (Psalm 73:16).
However, just one verse later, Asaph reports that everything became clear when he “entered God’s sanctuary” (v.17). Intimacy with God casts reinvigorating light on our deepest troubles.
Shirking common decency and eschewing basic proprietary may often lead to success and fortune, but the long-term consequences of ruin, destruction, and ultimate demise are inevitable. Seeking fortune at the cost of others and speaking with malice and arrogance will sever the ties between ourselves and the heart of God. And to be cut off from the presence of the Lord is utterly unthinkable.
So, is it worth it to hold fast to the presence of God, to long for His justice to flow like mighty waters, to put the interests of others before our own? Yes, it’s worth it. You can keep your trophies, treasures, and applause; instead, give me Jesus.
In the midst of our broken world, we must continue to cry out, “Rise up, O God, champion your cause!” (Psalm 74:22). We must cling for dear life to His promises; we must daily proclaim that God is faithful forever and that He will never forget or forsake us. “Remember your congregation, which you purchased long ago and redeemed” (v.2). When we feel ourselves slipping into doubt, when our hearts are grieved and embittered because wickedness wins in our world, we must seek God in His sanctuary so that we do not lose sight of the true, abundant life that awaits us in His presence. While material fortune, public approval, and temporal power will all soon pass away, the glory of the Lord endures forever.