In the course of everyday life, it often seems that God doesn’t care about the oppressed. He allows the wicked to have their way in the world. The prospering of the wicked is a frequently mentioned theme in the bible. A Bible thesaurus points this out in detail, “The wicked prosper (Ps. 10:5); I saw the prosperity of the wicked (Ps. 73:3); the wicked spend their days in prosperity (Job 21:13); robbers prosper (Job 12:6); her enemies prosper (Lam. 1:5); he will prosper until the time of wrath is completed (Dan. 11:36); he will succeed in what he does (Dan. 8:24); the horn prospered (Dan. 8:12); evildoers prosper (Mal. 3:15); why does the way of the wicked prosper? (Jer. 12:1); do not fret over him who prospers (Ps. 37:7).”[1] No one could identify with that better than the Northern Kingdom of Israel when they were conquered by the pagan Assyrian Nation. How can God allow such a thing? In Habakkuk 1:5, God assures his people that He is not inactive. He is behind the scenes even now working out justice against the oppressors. He says, Look among the nations and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.”

 But God’s people were suffering at the hands of the wicked at the moment! Just like God’s people today, we look around and see it all and wonder how God can allow this situation to continue. We have the exact instructions for us that Habakkuk gave to Israel. His key phrase in the whole book, which is often quoted in the new testament, is “the just shall live by faith.” We are to live our lives trusting God. He makes all things right in the end. It will come about in a way we probably would never imagine, but He has promised us that all things, both good and bad, will work out in the end for our good. We are called to trust God regardless of the situation in our own lives and the unjust situations we might see around us.

Psalm 37:7-9 contains one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible. I’m sure Jesus is thinking about this when he tells us not to worry. Paul was thinking of it when he said, “Be anxious for nothing.” It reads, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.” Butler comments on this verse, “The word translated ‘fret’ comes from the Hebrew word which involves a number of related attitudes. It can involve anger (we are angry with God for letting the wicked prosper), jealousy (we are jealous of the successes of the wicked), and even grief (the success of the wicked hurts). Fretting is easy to do. It comes naturally to most of us. We do not have to be taught to fret, for we seem to possess skills in fretting that need no teaching to improve them. It is not easy to see the wicked prosper and get ahead through their evil methods, but God has told us to ‘fret not.’[2]

 [1] Day, A. Colin. 2009. Collins Thesaurus of the Bible. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[2] Butler, John G. 2014. Sermon Starters. Vol. 3. Clinton, IA: LBC Publications.