The righteous seem to receive all of the bad things, and the wicked seem to go through life unscathed, untouched. They have the big cars and the nice houses on the hill. They can take fancy vacations. Nothing bad ever seems to happen to them.
A main reason that I Peter 2:18-24 was written is to warn us that sometimes the innocent are caught in God's justice. They will have to suffer for something that they have not caused. The test for us is whether we will be able to accept God's justice, His judgment, and take it in the same spirit that Christ did. If anyone could ever cry out, "Unfair! Unfair!" Jesus Christ would have to be the One.
How about us? What trials have we gone through, in which we did not cause the trial but became caught in somebody else's sin? It is very easy in such cases to cry out to God, "Unfair! Unfair! God, why are You allowing this to happen to me?" The implication of our complaint is, "After all the good things that I've done for You, God, You treat me like this." We are, in effect, trying to vindicate ourselves. We become frustrated and accusative, never even stopping to think that, if we received truly fair treatment, we would get what happened to Nadab and Abihu and Ananias and Sapphira!
God wants to see if we have faith in His judgment, in Him as an absolutely perfect Judge. Do we trust Him, or do we only trust Him when the going is good?
John W. Ritenbaugh
Solomon reminds us that, as life falls out for us, we frequently do not understand it. It may seem unfair because the evil are prospered and the righteous are persecuted. But he does not dwell on that. Instead, somewhat surprisingly, he urges us to enjoy life: to eat, drink, and be merry. He does the same at least three other times earlier in the book despite all the vanity “under the sun.”
This is neither a cynical nor resigned-to-one's-fate acceptance of the “Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” attitude. Notice that the last phrase of verse 15 asserts that these circumstances are a gift from God. In addition, he says in Ecclesiastes 2:24, “There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, was from the hand of God.” Therefore, this agrees with his earlier counsel that what is happening to us harmonizes with God's purpose for us. So the times and circumstances we are living in are good for our preparation for God's Kingdom.
Yes, there is vanity under the sun. Yes, we see a lot of injustice. But we have a lot of overcoming work to do, and there is joy for us in the ordinary activities of life, sharing fellowship with the people of God. While we are involved with all our heart in these things, God is nourishing and sustaining us as He prepares us. Thus, there is even reason to celebrate. God is calling on us to rejoice.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Fifteen): Deference