I was thinking this morning on my way to work (this blog might be filled with a lot more profundity if I lived farther from work; I do some of my best thinking in the car) about several people I know who are suffering as (or because) they continue to do good.
And I realized what a biblical experience this is.
The Psalms are FILLED with cries of anguish from saints who see the wicked (i.e. those who do things their way rather than God's) prospering. It's that anti-Proverbs, anti-Psalm-1, experience where Ecclesiastes now makes a whole lot of sense.
For some reason, God has chosen to order the world in such a way that almost nothing is as it seems. The foolish things of the world are wise. The rich are poor. The weak are strong. Our job is to live from day to day choosing to believe that we are citizens of an upside-down Kingdom.
Psalm 37 makes a whole lot of sense in this vein; oh that we will believe (I do believe; help my unbelief) what God tells us is true rather than taking things at face value.
Psalm 37 (excerpts)
Do not fret because of evil men
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.
A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy great peace.
... Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;
for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.
The days of the blameless are known to the LORD,
and their inheritance will endure forever.
If the LORD delights in a man's way,
he makes his steps firm;
though he stumble, he will not fall,
for the LORD upholds him with his hand.
I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
... Wait for the LORD
and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.
I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
flourishing like a green tree in its native soil,
but he soon passed away and was no more;
though I looked for him, he could not be found.
Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
there is a future [b] for the man of peace.
But all sinners will be destroyed;
the future [c] of the wicked will be cut off.
The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.