I know you’ve heard the question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” It is a question that books have been devoted to. And if you ever come close to a satisfactory answer to that question (as if that were possible)… there remains one more question that will STILL drive you nuts: “Why do good things happen to bad people?”
If good people have to have hardship… that may be hard to swallow… but… so be it. It helps them grow. It produces compassion in them. They endure in hope. But why do evil people sometimes receive no such resistance? Why is it smooth sailing for them? Don’t they need even more so: to grow, to learn compassion and to experience hope? We reach the point of sympathizing with the Psalmist: “…I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked. …always at ease, they have increased in wealth. ” (73:3-4, 12)
Case in point: Genesis 36. All one finds when they read this often skipped over chapter of the Bible is a long list of Jacob’s brother Esau’s property, sons and animals. It is pretty dry reading unless you really examine closely this spreadsheet. It is then you realize that Esau was loaded! Money in those days was measured in how many children you fathered, the amount of deeds you possessed and how many flocks and herds were grazing on your property. Esau, in the eyes of the ancient world, was a very successful man. And yet God would say of him: “Esau I hated.” (Malachi 1:3 and Romans 9:13) God must be very gracious indeed to spoil a man He hated with such degree of prosperity.
But it really shouldn’t surprise us… Jesus taught us that His Father “…causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous.” God is remarkable good to even those who don’t think to thank Him (or refuse to thank Him) for the rich blessings He sends their way. (Romans 1:21)
Here is a warning here for us as believers. We might be tempted to envy the “Esau”s of this world, but we must not be quick to equate material success with spiritual success. The disciples in Jesus’ time stumbled on this issue as well. When Jesus said that it was more difficult for a camel to go through an eye of a needle than a rich man to enter heaven, the disciples gasped and asked Him: “Then who can be saved?” Would we gasp if we saw who was in and who was out of favor with God? Would many of the elite of this world be left off the “truly blessed” list?
Lael F. Arrington wrote about a time in her mid-twenties when she was trying to choose a life partner. She wrote: “On the same weekend in November one fellow I was dating told me he loved me, and the other fellow I was dating asked me to marry him. Both were intelligent, tall, handsome, witty and charming. The first fellow was quite successful already. Our times together were spent at country clubs, elegant parties, and lovely dinners. The second fellow was scrimping by in seminary, and our time together was spent over a bucket of chicken on a study date—he was writing papers and I preparing lecture notes for the high school classes I taught.
The first fellow and I did not share the same spiritual heritage or level of commitment, but the second one and I did. In fact, his level of commitment was greater than mine at the time and required a great deal of sacrifice. He wanted to teach and train Christians on the mission field. The lap of luxury looked much more appealing than a vow of poverty. But… when it came down to making a decision, I could not walk into the future and not share my past. After trusting Christ, it was the biggest decision of my life.
She continued: We still get the bucket of chicken, and many nights are study nights… But the blessings flowing from that decision are a source of profound and continuing joy. (A Bright Tomorrow, p. 12.)
In whatever financial circumstance you find yourself, rejoice in the fact that God does not hate you… but loves you with the most intense love. That in and of itself is a blessing that all the land, sheep and children in the world can’t come close to rivaling.