by David Sisler
A young scholar was anxious to learn all of the secrets of the world. He sought out the man who was reputed to be the wisest teacher of all time. The teacher said, “Go out into the rain and raise your arms upward. That will bring you a revelation.”
The next day the scholar reported back. “When I followed your advice, water flowed down my neck,” he told the teacher. “I felt like a complete fool.”
The teacher replied, “For the first day, that’s quite a revelation!”
Early in their lives, we give our children another revelation. Something happens, they are denied a privilege, they are not allowed to participate in an activity and they say, “It’s not fair!” Is there a parent alive who has not answered, “Life is not fair.”
Dennis Wholey, in his book Are You Happy?, put it about as well as I’ve heard it: “Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.”
David did not write all of the psalms. A few were written by an author identified only as Asaph. In one of them, Psalm 73, he talked about the fairness, or unfairness of life:
“God is truly good to those who have pure hearts. But I had almost stopped believing this truth. I had almost lost my faith because I was jealous of proud people. I saw wicked people doing well. They are not suffering. They are healthy and strong. They don’t have troubles like the rest of us. They don’t have problems like other people.”
Having observed all of that, Asaph declared, “Why have I kept my heart pure? Why have I kept my hands from doing wrong? I have suffered all day long. I have been punished every morning.”
Asaph had very serious doubts about the fairness of life. It is one thing to have doubts. God understands that. Alone in the Garden of Gethsemane, far enough away from his disciples that they could not hear, Jesus voiced His doubts. The only way we know he prayed, “Father let this cup pass from me,” is because he told his disciples about it later. Jesus expressed his doubts in the only way proper – he told them directly to God.
It is quite another thing to give voice to your doubts and cause other people to stumble. Asaph recognized that. He said, “God, if I had decided to talk about this, I would have let your people down.”
What changed Asaph’s mind? What erased his doubts about living righteously? He said, “When I went to the Temple of God I understood. You have put them in danger.” Those who disobey God and flaunt their disobedience may be successful for a short time, but their careless living has placed them in eternal danger.
“I was jealous when I watched the success of wicked people,” Asaph said. “I almost lost my faith.”
That may have happened to you. Someone may have told you serving Jesus would be easy. That is totally contrary to what Jesus said. “In this world,” Jesus plainly stated, “you will have tribulations.” Peter said, “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes to you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you. You share the sufferings of Christ. Keep on rejoicing.”
When you begin to think that life isn’t fair, when you begin to doubt that anyone cares whether you live right or wrong, when you begin to think that no one is really keeping score, stop, and with Asaph look at the danger the wicked live under every minute.
No wonder Asaph said, “Those who are far from God will die. You destroy those who are unfaithful. But I am close to God. The Lord is my protection.”
Is life fair? Of course not. But God is. And he is the one who is keeping score.
Copyright 2003 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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