Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
The instruction above may seem like a dream to many of us. Perhaps we or those we love have been deeply injured by someone, and we can’t seem to get beyond that fact. Maybe the prevalence of wickedness all around us weighs heavily upon us and robs us of our peace. It’s hard to not be troubled by the wicked prospering and metaphorically (as well as literally, at times) “getting away with murder”. Yet, the word of God remains unchanged. Ph 4:6 still stands: “Be anxious for nothing“!
No doubt, in the days of Pharaoh, there was great temptation to worry and fret with such a wicked ruler in power. The children of Israel had been enslaved, and things were getting worse instead of better. But, the comforting truth was that Pharaoh had not gained and maintained the throne because of his heritage, his skill, or his power. In Ex 9:16, God said, “But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” This verse in Exodus is quoted in the New Testament, but notice the context in which it is presented:
So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. Rom 9:16-18)
The point in God making such a statement regarding Pharaoh is to show us clearly that He is in control and not man! Did you know that before Moses ever approached Pharaoh, God said He would harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he wouldn’t initially release Israel? “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.'” (Ex 4:21) Pharaoh refusing to heed the plea of the Israelites was not simply a wicked king fulfilling the evil intent of his heart. God was working behind the scenes with a greater purpose in mind. “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them.” (Ex 7:3-5)
Pain, suffering, trial, tribulation…they are a given in this life, but our rejoicing is based on the fact that Jesus has overcome the world! (Jn 16:33) He’s bigger than our circumstances. He’s in charge of our trials. He is insuring that all things, even the wrathful acts of sinful man, will only work to His eventual praise! (Ps 76:10) Yes, man is accountable for his sin, but his wrongdoing cannot overthrow God’s purposes. God may even turn your affliction around and save the soul of your present afflictor so that you can exclaim with the apostle, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Rom 11:33) Remember, Paul and Stephen are rejoicing together in the presence of the Lord right now!
Nothing beneficial will come from worrying about that situation that has your stomach in knots. “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret—it only causes harm.” (Ps 37:7-8) Embrace the peace that belongs to you, precious child of the eternal King! God hasn’t forsaken you now, and He never will. “For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; indeed, you will look carefully for his place, but it shall be no more. But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” (Ps 37:10-11)