Updated: Aug 29, 2018
Read Psalm 37:1-40
This week, government officials deported the country's last known Nazi war criminal. His name is Jakiw Palij, and until a few days ago, he lived in Queens, New York. Palij had lived there in a home that he bought decades ago. Ironically, his home was purchased from Holocaust survivors who didn't know about Palij's past. He had gained entry into the United States by indicating that he was a farmer during the War. Palij is now living in a senior home in Ahlen, Germany, and officials say it is unlikely that he will face any charges, due to the laws that are presently on the books. It is right and just that this man was deported. However, justice in this case will not likely be fully carried out, and sadly, due to a variety of reasons, Palij's case is not an isolated incident. When justice is not done, innocent people are hurt and guilty people often prosper, even becoming emboldened when evil appears to win, Psalm 12:8. When we observe miscarriages of justice, it can be helpful to see that the Bible shows us that "when" has two sides, and we see both of them in Psalm 37.
Side One: We are now living in the difficult side of ‘when’. It is the time when we often see inequity. One thing that encourages me is that throughout the scriptures we observe that God knows all about the injustices we see. In fact, Psalm 37 starts right out talking about wicked people prospering. Isn't it encouraging to know that God knew that we would have to see circumstances unfold that would be hard for us to endure. Psalm 37 reminds us that there is no doubt that wickedness, unfair treatment and injustice are part of the present world system, and it is not a matter of if we will see these kinds of circumstances but "when".
On our present side of ‘when’, things often appear to be upside down and confusing. That is why I'm so thankful for the practical commands God gives us, ways for us to prosper in God's eyes, as we walk through each day with Him on the inequitable side of ‘when’.
We are to treasure His word in our hearts which will keep us from stumbling, Psalm 37:31. This is similar to Psalm 119:105; Psalm 119:9-11. Like keeping a precious letter from a loved one, until he returns, holding God's commands, promises and truths about Who He is buoy us up on the darker side of when.
We are to remember that our steps are ordered by the Lord and that He delights in our way. Even if we stumble, He will keep us from an ultimate fall, Psalm 37:23-24.
We are not to fret or become angry when we see the wicked prospering. Instead, we are commanded to do what is good and wait patiently for the Lord to act. The Lord tells us to trust Him and to cultivate faithfulness, Psalm 37:3. Although we can't change all the unfair circumstances around us, we can be faithful in the areas where He has called us, knowing that what He requires of His stewards is not certain outcomes, but rather faithfulness, 1 Corinthians 4:1-2.
He wants us to rest in Him and be humble, Psalm 37:11. Isn't this much like Jesus told us to do, Matthew 11:28-30. How good it is to remember that walking humbly with the Savior means a deeper learning about Him, not more understanding about the multitude of circumstances that try to bombard our minds. We need to come to Him, not only for salvation but for His sustaining grace. When we see injustice, no matter the circumstances, we are prone to anger, fretting or other fleshly reactions. Yet, when we delight ourselves in Who God is and do what is good, our outlook can change, even before we live on the other side of when.
Side Two: We will one day be living on the glorious side of ‘when’, Psalm 37:34-40. This wondrous time is described many other places in scripture more fully, Isaiah 11:6-9; Revelation 21-22 to merely name a few. Can we even imagine the joy there will be as we see the grace of God poured out and fully flourishing in His Kingdom? How wonderful will it be when nothing harmful, hurtful or wicked ever comes into view, Isaiah 35:8-10. Think of it. Nothing will threaten in the present or down the road for all of us who will reside with the Lord in "the Father's House", John 14:1-3.
We don't know how God will make all things right, but we know that on the beautiful side of ‘when’, there will be no tears or sorrow, Isaiah 65:17-19. What a joyful prospect we have, even though we are still walking on "this side of when".
Yet, so many do not know the God Who is both Creator and Redeemer, the Author of our salvation. May He guide us as to how we can show and tell others that no one is beyond His grace, whether she is the one who has been denied justice or he is the one who did what was so wrong, 1 Timothy 1:12-17. Jesus paid the price for both of them!