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God and the rat race

Why do the wicked get away with cursing God? How can they think, “God will never call us to account”? — Psalm 10:13

“Life is a rat race—and the rats are winning!” Many of our contemporaries think this way, and sometimes it seems they’re right. The psalmist would probably not have thought of his world as a rat race, nor would he have called its inhabitants rats. But that description would certainly fit his perception of what was going on around him.

Functional atheists are the rats who populate the rat race. Functional atheists are not theoretical atheists—people who argue philosophically that God does not exist. Rather, they are people who live and function as though God does not exist (Psalm 10:411-13). He is to them a nonfactor, a total irrelevance. Functional atheists disdain utterly any concept that there is a God who rules the universe, who determines the way we should live, and who holds us accountable. They casually trample underfoot any thought of divine rule, divine order, or divine retribution. And they seem to get away with it! Life for them is sweet.

For the psalmist, life was bitter. While the rats were coming up roses, the psalmist was picking thistles. It was seeing that the rats seemed to be winning that stuck in the psalmist’s craw. It was bad enough that they lived as if God were dead, or at least incapacitated. But it was infinitely worse that God seemed to be assisting their conclusions by being conspicuously absent. Glibly they said, “Nothing bad will ever happen to us! We will be free of trouble forever!” (10:6). Happily they insisted, “God isn’t watching! He will never notice!” (10:11). And God seemed to be letting them get away with it. It seemed the rats were winning and the referee wasn’t even watching!

But the psalmist clung to two things. He believed with all his heart that “The Lord is king forever and ever!” (10:16) and that the Lord “will bring justice” (10:18). If those things are true, there is hope that righteousness will ultimately triumph. We may not see it in our lifetime because the Lord operates in the forever and ever. We may not experience it the way we want, but we can bear in mind that the Lord knows “the hopes of the helpless” and “will listen to their cries and comfort them” (10:17). He will make sure that justice is ultimately done (see Luke 16:19-31).

We can face the rat race and know that God wins—not the rats! We can run the race God’s way, not theirs. And we can concentrate on the God standing at the finishing line rather than on the rats nipping our heels.

For further study: Psalm 10

Content taken from The One Year Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.