Frank called me every week, usually on Mondays and Thursdays. This day, the conversation started with, “Scott, why do all the people who don’t go to church or care about God have nicer things than me?”
I was barely 30 and Frank was over 40. I was still “wet behind the ears” as Nanny would say and still had a lot to learn (I am over 50 now and still have a lot to learn). Back to Frank. He was on disability and lived in Government subsidized housing. His disability stemmed back to a mental health diagnosis in college and a physical health issue that kept him in constant pain. All of this affected how he viewed the world and his self-image. In his mind, he was trying to do what was right and to follow God and yet he struggled financially. He drove an old car and lived in a small apartment and on his way to worship that Sunday, he saw all these people leaving big houses in fancy new cars headed to the beach, the waterpark, or to go fishing instead of going to church. To Frank, this was not fair.
Frank is not the first nor will he be the last to think this way. More than likely, you have similar thoughts or have had them, so did the psalmist Asaph.
For I was envious of the boastful, I saw the peace of the wicked.
For there are no pains in their death,
And their body is fat.
They are not in trouble as other men,
And they are not stricken along with the rest of mankind. (Psalm 73:3-5)
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Behold, these are the wicked;
And always at ease, they have increased in wealth.
Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
And washed my hands in innocence;
For I have been stricken all day long
And reproved every morning. (Psalm 73:12-14 – LSB)
Why do they have it so good? Aren’t God’s people supposed to be the blessed ones? Why do athletes, movie stars, business leaders, entertainers, and political leaders who claim no allegiance to God or Christ have all the money, power, and influence? Why do they get rewarded for doing and promoting evil? Why do I feel punished for doing what is right? This reality is enough to lead someone away from God. Asaph said as much, “But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, My steps had almost slipped. For I was envious. . . “ (Psalm 73:2-3 – LSB).
I tried to remind Frank that appearances are deceptive. Those people he saw may not be as happy as he thinks. His car was paid for and his rent subsidized. They may be working 70 hours/week to make payments they cannot afford to live a lifestyle out of their reach. I also tried to help him remember that this life is not all there is to our existence. That is what Asaph realized, “It was trouble in my sight Until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood . . .” (Psalm 73:16-17 – LSB).
The psalmist understood:
- The end of those that reject God.
- They fall to destruction.
- What they have cane be lost in a moment.
- True peace and happiness in God, “the rock of my heart and my portion forever . . . the nearness of God is my good; I have set Lord Yahweh as my refuge.” (Psalm 73:26-28 – LSB)
There is an old hymn that reminds us of this truth,
“Living below in this old sinful world,
Hardly a comfort can afford;
Striving alone to face temptations sore,
Where could I go, but to the Lord?”
J. B. Coats – 1940
Why do bad people have it so good? Because they miss what life is truly about – Christ!