Why do the wicked prosper? This is a question for the ages. Throughout the Bible, the authors asked God that very question. David in Psalm 73:12 laments the wicked are “always at ease and increase in riches.” Jeremiah asks about God’s justice regarding the wicked (Jer. 12:1). The book of Malachi refers to the “wicked prospering and escaping punishment” (Mal. 3:15). These are just some of the biblical authors that agonized over the fact that life isn’t always fair.
And I ask that question often as well. Looking at this world from an earthly perspective can be so disappointing sometimes. In my mind, right should always win, hardworking people should always get the reward and good should always be recognized. But the reality is that children get sick and die, innocent people are abused and mistreated, and crime does sometimes go unpunished.
Even the disciples, the very ones who walked with Jesus daily were looking to Him to make the world right again, to change their situation. However, we know that didn’t happen, at least not in the way they expected. They were looking for a conquering Messiah, someone to overthrow the government. They didn’t realize that Jesus did come to conquer, not the current government, but death, hell and the grave for all mankind. A much larger picture than the disciples could ever understand.
In the same way in our world, our circumstances, our disappointments, there is a larger picture we cannot see right now. We only see a finite part of reality; God sees the entire timeline. It is all in His timing.
His plan is that no one should perish, He is patient and full of compassion. Second Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” And yes, “everyone” does include the people we consider wicked. God is patient with them as well.
Ultimately, there will be some that do not repent, and David finally concluded in Psalm 73 they will receive their reward. He said, “Until I went into the sanctuary of God, then I understood their end” (Ps. 73:17). Notice it wasn’t until he went “into the sanctuary of God” that he finally understood. Getting close to God allows us to let go of all that we do not understand or control. That’s where our peace comes from.
Where are our eyes and in whom do we put our trust? When this world becomes too much and hope seems fleeting, take refuge in the sanctuary of God. Remember our saving grace. Remember our eternity rests in His loving and compassionate, patient hands.