When the Right People Suffer and the Wrong People Prosper...

[The wicked] have more than heart could wish ... These are the ungodly, who are always at ease; they increase in riches ... When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me.
— Asaph (Ps. 73:7, 12, 16)

Everyone goes through tough times. It may be about lack of money, or relationship breakdowns, the loss of a loved one, or working really hard for something that just never seems to happen. This seems even more unfair when the people suffering are gold-hearted individuals who treat others well, work hard and have good faith and values. Being a good person in a bad situation also makes it difficult to watch other’s get whatever they want without any apparent effort, even if they’re corrupt and hurtful. How are we supposed to cope with this added insult?

It can present itself in a number of ways: coming up with great ideas that someone else takes the credit for, putting lots of effort into a relationship only to get rejected for someone else, working hard and with integrity while someone else gets paid twice as much to do very little, being single and childless while the most difficult person you know is married and having their third child, or even watching someone you love die of cancer while another is healed without faith.  

What do we do in such situations? First of all, no matter how much we might want to, it is not our place to judge another. Sometimes we don’t know exactly what someone went through to achieve a particular thing. Their horrible behaviour may also be coming from a place of pain. Wounded people pass on their pain, often without realising it. Sometimes what they need is our compassion, not our resentment. 

We also have to be self-aware enough to monitor our resentment and bitterness – how much space is it taking up in our hearts? What good is it doing? Has it changed the other person? Made them behave better? If not, holding onto such damaging emotions will only affect ourselves. Besides, if someone is corrupt, badly behaved or vindictively smug, then they are certainly not worth sacrificing our happiness for!

Those who don’t treat people well or act with integrity will eventually pay the price. It may be within a matter of days, or years, or even after they leave this world. They are like the seeds that fell on the rocks – they may prosper for a while, but they will whither away and fade. We may not see it happen and it’s not our business to rejoice when it does, but we can trust that all will be righted in the end.

We have to have faith that our hard work will also pay off in a way that is lasting and ever-fruitful. We have been promised that everything we put our hands too will prosper, in the right time. Nothing we do with the right heart is ever wasted.  

Our role is to be the better person, even if it doesn’t seem fair, even if it’s hard, even if it benefits the person who doesn’t deserve it. The moment we stoop to their level or start harbouring negative feelings towards them is the moment they win. We cheat ourselves out of our own blessings – how can we prosper if we’re hoping for someone else’s downfall? Wishing others ill luck only serves to corrupt our own happiness. This doesn’t mean we don’t confront things when we need to, just that we don’t start treating people with malice. At the end of the day, we are only accountable for our actions and our treatment of other people.

‘Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.’ Luke 6:28.

Further reading: Psalm 37.