Righteous [are] You, O LORD, when I plead with You; Yet let me talk with You about [Your] judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? [Why] are those happy who deal so treacherously?
Jeremiah 12:1 NKJV
Have you ever asked this question of God? I know I certainly have, and I am willing to bet it was for the same reasons many of us do. This question, and the emotion that produces it, are most often the result of something called frustration. Now frustration is most often a combination of two other feelings we all can relate to and those are anger and discouragement. Now speaking for myself, anger and discouragement generally follow when plans don't work out the way I wanted or expected them to. One thing I have noticed as well is that it really doesn't matter if they are life changing plans or just every day living and working around the house plans, if I want something and it doesn't work out I get frustrated.
The key to all of this though, at least in my opinion, is contained in one little letter and that is the letter “I”. It has taken me quite a while to come to the understanding in my own life that these emotions are really a result of my failure to understand that “I” don't have nearly as much control over life as I wish I had. So often we make plans expecting certain results without acknowledging that we probably don't have the power to control the outcome. Then when circumstances occur which foil our best laid plans we get frustrated, angry and discouraged.
When this happens in the believers life, quite often the result is the question we find in Jeremiah. Why? Because it seems natural for us to look around in our frustration and see others who have what we want, and who possibly got it at our expense by obtaining it in a way that as believers we could never do. We then look to God and ask why, as if it's God's fault we are frustrated because we certainly deserve whatever it was we wanted. Something I noticed though in all of this, is a point made when we ask this question of God in the first place. You see, if we ask this question of God are we not then acknowledging that He is in control and has the power to affect the outcome? If so, then doesn't it follow that the result was according to His will?
There are three points I believe we need to understand in order to deal with the frustration we often experience as a result of the realization that we don't control our own circumstances, and that God does.
God knows us.
"I am the good shepherd; and I know My [sheep], and am known by My own.
John 10:14 NKJV
Now it's important to understand that this verse is not saying that God just knows who we are. It is much more than that. The word for know in the Greek is ginōskō; to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel, to become known, to know, understand, perceive, have knowledge of, to understand, to know. You see, what we are being told here is that God knows us better than we know ourselves. That being the case, it follows that God knows what is best for us as well. As parents, how often do we say no to something our children really want because we know that it isn't the best thing for them. As they grow older, those circumstances might change, but we make those decisions based on our knowledge. God knows us, and if we acknowledge that He is in control, shouldn't we accept whatever comes without frustration, anger and discouragement?
God has a plan for us.
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations."
Jeremiah 1:5 NKJV
The word for “know” used here in the Hebrew has the same meaning as the one in John. So not only are we being told that God knows us, we are being told that He has a plan for our life that predated our birth! In His perfect knowledge, God has laid out the course of this world, and made a special place for you and me. Before He even created this world, He had a plan and knew exactly what part we were going to play in it. When we try to control our own lives, or argue with God when things don't go as we planned, in reality we are telling God He doesn't know what He is doing. In effect, we are telling God we need something to make us happy, and He is telling us that in order to be happy we need to go along with His plan.
God will take care of us.
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Phillipians 4:19 NKJV
It took me quite a while to understand that happiness was not getting what I wanted, but rather enjoying what God has given me. I always seem to find myself falling into the trap of deciding I need something and making plans to get it rather that just sharing with God what I think I would like and waiting to see if He gives it to me. If God has promised to take care of us, why do we constantly try to do it ourselves? I can't help but think of Eve in the Garden of Eden deciding she really needed what God told her she didn't need, and look at the result of that. If you think about it, how much sense does it make to disagree with a Holy God who knows the future?
Does this mean we are not supposed to have desires or make plans for our futures? Not at all, but what it does mean is that you give them to God with the acknowledgment that He is in control and if it is His will for them to work out, they will. On the other hand, if those plans do not work out you understand that in His perfect knowledge, God has other plans for you. Oh, and let's not forget those who might appear to have what we want because they are willing to do anything to get them. The wicked prosper because Satan wants it to appear that his way is better than God's. God calls them “wicked”, and while at first it appears they are happy because they have what they want, in the end we find they have nothing at all because God promises the wicked get what they deserve.
Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring [it] to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret--[it] only [causes] harm. For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked [shall be] no [more]; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it [shall be] no [more]. But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
Psalms 37:4-11 NKJV
How often do we try and tell God what He should do? Really? I constantly ask myself how dumb am I to try and argue with the God of the universe who knows the future! I may have a plan, but it is God alone who already knows if it will result in my happiness or sorrow. So let Him lead.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV
Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if [there is any] wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalms 139:23-24 NKJV