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It's the question on everyone's lips. Well, if not, it ought to be! This question has puzzled the human race almost from Day One. I know it stirs my heart and mind more and more as I watch the unfolding events in the lives of people.

"Why do the wicked prosper?"

This question does not suggest that each and every "wicked" person is prosperous. But it does reflect the reality that there seems to be many cases where those who reject God from their lives (which is what I think "wicked" means here) get on very well while many who seek to live righteously attract all manner of heartache and mayhem.

This question could be expressed in many ways but the short and simple version that verbalizes my confusion is this: Why do bad things happen to good people while good things happen to bad people?"

There is something fundamental within our sense of justice that believes good people deserve good outcomes while bad people deserve bad outcomes. That's only fair and just, isn't it? If you do good you should be rewarded with good. If you do wrong you should be punished by having negative circumstances invade your life.

This sense of right and wrong is so deeply entrenched in our psyche that we just cannot ignore or dismiss the confusion and struggle we experience when we are confronted with those situations where bad people (according to our criteria of good and bad) receive good things while good people seem to be punished by what they experience. In fact, our inability to reconcile the tension between what should be (justice) and what is (injustice) that many people of faith have abandoned their faith.

This struggle or tension is no new thing for people of faith. I don't know much about Asaph but he was, apparently, a composer of hymns for the ancient Hebrew people. One of his hymns (number 73 in the "Psalms" hymn book) deals with his struggles in this regard. This psalm (like many, many others) is noteworthy because of its honesty and integrity as Asaph wrestled with this age-old question, "Why do the wicked prosper?" (v.16)

Such is the transparency of Asaph's struggle, there is much to be learned as he tells of his "crisis of faith". To a greater or lesser degree, many of us can relate to his crisis and, hopefully, to the breakthrough that came as he experienced a paradigm shift that dramatically changed his perspective.

I want to unpack Asaph's journey over my next few posts and to identify the key factors that moved him from his almost agnostic position to a renewal of faith commitment. What happened that rescued him from the crisis?

More about this next time.

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