So I'm currently going through the book of Habbakuk in my women's Bible Study. The leader of the group made a really interesting observation. Let me explain Habbakuk a little bit in laymen's terms. So Habbakuk is complaining of the people of Israel to the Lord (bec. they're sinful and whatnot) and then the Lord tells him (Habbakuk), "Hey, I'm going to punish them. I'm going to use these Chaldeans (AKA Babylonians) and then Habbakuk starts lamenting, like, "Lord, why are you going to use these EVIL people to judge Israel. I mean those guys are REALLY bad, we're relatively righteous compared to them..." So then my leader brings up the age old struggle of how we wrestle God with questions. Questions like, "Well, why does this happen to us and not somebody else... or why do bad things happen to good (or relatively good) people. It brought up a lot of thoughts. Sometimes (and be prepared this is pretty terrible) I look at sisters who don't get along or don't like each other and think, well, why couldn't one of them have died instead of my sister. Because, heck, I loved my sister and we had a great relationship. Now, be reminded, I forewarned you that it was ugly. It does break my heart when I see sisters against one another because I want to shake them and tell them what a good thing they've got, how precious and valuable a sister is... how I would give anything to have my sister, Libby back.
But there were also these questions of the Babylonians taking over. Why was the Lord prospering them? Why does He prosper these wicked people... and it made me turn to the Psalms.. specifically Psalm 73:
"Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind. Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. Their eyese swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies. They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth. Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them. And they say, "How can I know God? Is there any knowledge in the Most High?" Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. If I had said, "I will speak thus," I would have betrayed the generation of your children. But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wersisome task, UNTILl I WENT INTO THE SANCTUARY OF GOD; THEN I DISCERNED THEIR END. Truly you have set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms. When my sould was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you, you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Who have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strenght of my heart and my portion forever. For behold those who are far from you shall perish; you put and end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord my refuge that I may tell of all your works."
We're still going through Habbakuk, I mean we haven't really studied Chapter 2 yet... but it's intersting to see how even in the Old Testament people had questions about God's goodness and wondering why he allows the things he does. So I'm not really focusing here on the whole context/intent/content of Habbakuk... I'm just wrestling with God a little bit too. Sometimes the question isn't why do good things happen to "bad" people, but why do good things happen to others (even people we love) but don't happen to us? Don't we all face these kinds of questions... such as:
"Why are they married and I'm not? Why do their grandchildren get to be close to them when mine live far away? Why did they get the promotion? the job? The house? The girl? Why isn't my child healthy like theirs? Why are they more prosperous financially? Why is their marriage doing great when mine is on the rocks? How come she gets more clothes than I do? More toys? More books? More ice-cream in her cone? Why do they have it easy when my life is hard? Why can they have kids and we can't?"
I go back to the author of Psalm 73 and state with him, "Until I went into the sanctuary of God." Maybe you're questioning why bad things happen to "good" people or why good things happen to bad people, or good things happen to "good" people, but um, not you. We are left with being in need of God. We need to meet with Him. It's not until we have that encounter with Him that we can be changed, that our perspective can be made right, that our courage, heart, mind, soul can be renewed. I'm not going to pretend that these questions aren't difficult or even painful...what I'm saying is I don't have the answers, God does... and it's not until we reflect on Him that we can find peace, that we can be reminded of His goodness and faithfulness towards us. That my heart of discontent and anxiety can be transformed to gratefulness and joy. I can then turn and say, "The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines (other translations say boundaries) have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance." (Psalm 16:5-6)