Author Charlie Shedd once received a letter from a high school student in Nebraska, asking a difficult question.
“We are having a hard time on the farm this year because of no rain. My father is worried about paying the bills and the bank. All the farmers are worried. My folks are good people. We go to church, my mom and I sing in the choir, and my father is a deacon. My parents do so many good things. They grow more food than we need and give to poor people. I guess what bothers me most is why does it rain on my uncle’s farm? He lives seventy miles away, and his crops are looking good. I probably shouldn’t say this, but my uncle is mean. I don’t see how my aunt stands him; he is so awful to her. He is awful to my cousins too, and nobody likes him. He swears a lot, and he doesn’t go to church. I am not sure he even believes in God. So why does he get rain and we don’t? Do you know what I’m asking? Do you think it’s fair?”1
In his response, Charlie didn’t lecture this earnest young girl about the fact that good behavior doesn’t ensure an easy life or that geographical factors may have been affecting weather patterns, but he did remind her of the story of a man called Job, the poor guy who lost his children, his servants, and his wealth in just a few hours. Then Job’s body broke out in horrible sores. In the end, after enduring days of bad advice from three so-called friends, Job received something better than a buttoned-up answer to his sufferings—a visitation from a God so magnificent that his questions no longer mattered. He also received twice as many blessings as he had before.
“Why do the wicked prosper?”—it’s a question that will always be asked.
Our task is not to keep searching for easy answers but to keep believing that God is good no matter what. As Charlie Shedd pointed out, the story of Job ends on a positive note: “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part” (42:12, niv). Each of us can expect the same, even if the “latter part” doesn’t begin to unfold in this life.
- Charlie W. Shedd, Brush of an Angel’s Wing (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 1994), 151–52.