“It was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” Psalm 73:16-17
As a kid, I used to devour 3-D comic books, the kind that came with that special set of cardboard glasses. Without the glasses, the pages were blurry. But with the glasses, the images became clear and jumped off the page. Superman’s muscles bulged as he swooped down to rescue Lois Lane from Lex Luther and, hooray, Lex was always eventually foiled!
Sometimes, even today, I find myself wishing for the same type of comic-book justice—you know, with the nice tidy ending where the bad guy loses and the hero gets the girl. But life seems to rarely work out like that. Instead, the bad guy ends up with the girl in the tropics, living off of her trust fund!
Perhaps you can identify. Ever feel like you (the good guy) always lose, and the bad guys in your life win? Well, if so, you’re not alone.
Asaph, the author of Psalm 73:1-28, struggled with this question big time. Many of us can relate to the depth of his discouragement when, after watching the wicked prosper, he wrote, “Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence” (Psalm 73:13). Asaph was ticked because being good was getting him nowhere fast. In his mind, he had been good for nothing!
Until, that is, he went into the presence of God and saw life through God’s glasses. I guess there are lots of reasons that God lets the wicked prosper, but among them is the fact that the Lex Luthers of this world prosper because God is a God of mercy and grace. He gives good things regardless of whether or not we deserve it. And who of us could begrudge that to anyone, since we all are deep debtors to His mercy and grace? I’d hate to think of where I would be without His mercy and grace!
But, your heart cries, where is justice? Why do the wicked go on unchecked while your life seems restrained and difficult? Which was exactly Asaph’s complaint. But, just when it seemed like all was lost for Asaph, he put on God’s glasses and realized that prosperity is more than what we see in the here and now. He said, “It was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny” (Psalm 73:16-17). Reading a little further, we see that their ultimate destiny is the judgment of God. Asaph learned that, in the scope of eternity, the bad guys lose. In other words, what difference does it make if you have a big inning and lose the whole game?
I have a friend who says that if all we see is the here-and-now, we will misunderstand everything. How true. I don’t know about you, but I am so ready to trash seeing life without the advantage of God’s 3-D glasses. When I see life from God’s perspective, I discover along with Asaph that true prosperity is found in God’s presence, guidance, and in-depth, long-range goodness to His people (Psalm 73:22-23). From God’s point of view, the wicked do not prosper—not really. True prosperity is in being able to say with our psalmist friend, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. . . . But as for me, it is good to be near God” (Psalm 73:25,28).
- Read Psalm 73:1-28. The next time you are discouraged by the prosperity of the wicked, meditate on this chapter.
- Has God’s goodness to you ever fueled an independent and rebellious spirit? In your journal, write out a prayer asking God to forgive you.
- Pray and ask God to give you a look through His glasses when it comes to the bad guys who seem to prosper all around you. Ask Him to give you an eternal perspective on the events in the here and now.