“and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).
We may acknowledge that God will vindicate us in response to the persecutions we experience. However, a more troublesome question may be “when?” As days turn into weeks, months, or years with seemingly little change, we may be tempted to lose hope that God will ultimately exonerate us. As it turns out, an Old Testament psalmist was intimately familiar with that very sentiment…
“How long must I wait before you punish those who persecute me? These proud men who hate your truth and laws have dug deep pits for me to fall in. Their lies have brought me into deep trouble. Help me, for you love only truth. They had almost finished me off, yet I refused to yield and disobey your laws. In your kindness, spare my life; then I can continue to obey you” (Psalms 119:84-88 TLB).
Another psalmist voiced a similar lament but was ultimately jolted into an important change of perspective that we would do well to remember…
“…I was envious of the prosperity of the proud and wicked. Yes, all through life their road is smooth! They grow sleek and fat. They aren’t always in trouble and plagued with problems like everyone else… And so God’s people are dismayed and confused and drink it all in. ‘Does God realize what is going on?’ they ask. ‘Look at these men of arrogance; they never have to lift a finger—theirs is a life of ease; and all the time their riches multiply.’
Have I been wasting my time? Why take the trouble to be pure? All I get out of it is trouble and woe—every day and all day long! If I had really said that, I would have been a traitor to your people. Yet it is so hard to explain it—this prosperity of those who hate the Lord.
Then one day I went into God’s sanctuary to meditate and thought about the future of these evil men. What a slippery path they are on—suddenly God will send them sliding over the edge of the cliff and down to their destruction: an instant end to all their happiness, an eternity of terror. Their present life is only a dream! They will awaken to the truth as one awakens from a dream of things that never really were!
When I saw this, what turmoil filled my heart! I saw myself so stupid and so ignorant; I must seem like an animal to you, O God. But even so, you love me! You are holding my right hand! You will keep on guiding me all my life with your wisdom and counsel, and afterwards receive me into the glories of heaven!” (Psalms 73:3-5, 10-24 TLB).