Perhaps you can relate to the Psalmist. He sees greed and corruption all around him. He hears the voices of the proud denying or doubting God. He sees the righteous struggling. In his mind evil should bring pain and righteousness should bring joy. But what he thinks in his mind does not seem to match what is happening in real life.
But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end.
–Psalm 73:16 (ESV)
The Psalmist is faced with thoughts that he simply cannot get his hands around. Like an algebra student pulling an all night study session attempting to figure out how x=8, he scratches his head. Here is his dilemma:
1. Truth Statement – God punishes the ungodly.
2. Observation – The ungodly are flourishing.
3. Possible Solution #1 – The truth statement is incorrect. God does not punish the ungodly.
4. Possible Solution #2 – The observation is incorrect. The ungodly really are not flourishing.
What causes his consternation is that both solutions are no solutions. God does punish the ungodly. He is unwavering on truth. And the ungodly really are flourishing. So another solution to the problem must exist. Where can we find an answer to this riddle?
The Psalmist found his answer when he “went into the sanctuary of God.” Think of this as being in the presence of God. Once he was in God’s presence, the light shined on his problem. He had not factored into his equation the variable of time. For now the righteous are flourishing, but they will not always flourish. In the end the proud will be humbled and the humble will be lifted up.
Like the algebra student who can turn to the back of the book to find the answers to the math problems, we can read in our book – the Bible – the answer to our question. The Psalmist goes on to write that the ungodly are standing on slippery places. They will fall to ruin. They will be destroyed in a moment. They will be swept away utterly by terrors.
As for the righteous:
Afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
–Psalm 73:24-25 (ESV)
It is left for us to set our desire on God. As the old spiritual song says, “He may not come when you want him, but He’s right on time.”