Do not envy the wicked, but follow God.
As a young girl, Ella's mother passed away, leaving her to be raised by her loving father. The words that Ella's mother left her with were to have courage and be kind. This is what Ella lives by. Once Ella was nearly a grown woman, her father remarried, bringing a new stepmother and two stepsisters into their little country home. Though they seem to be a spoiled, haughty bunch, Ella still shows them kindness and treats them as family. When Ella's father leaves town on yet another business trip, Ella sheds a few tears, but is comforted by her new stepmother.
Unfair, Injustice, Evil, Wicked, Envy
“Now now,” Ella's stepmother says, putting her arms around Ella. “You mustn't blub.” Ella forces a smile. “Yes stepmother.” “Oh, you needn't call me that,” she says cheerfully, dabbing at Ella's tears. “Madame will do.” Ella's spirits drop a bit. Just then, Ella's two stepsisters burst into the corridor, fighting like two mad cats and hurling insults at each other. Ella's stepmother explains how the sisters have always shared a room, but that they are finding the sleeping quarters a bit confining. Ella, her heart ever full of the courage to be kind, offers the use of her bedroom, the second largest in the house, for her new stepsisters. “What a wonderful idea!” Ella's stepmother exclaims, not pretending for a moment that she is taking advantage of Ella's kindness. “What a good girl you are!” Ella smiles, pleased that she could be of some help. “I can stay in the-” “The attic!” her stepmother interrupts. “Quite so!” “The attic?” Ella asks, confused. “Yes,” her stepmother replies, explaining that it will only be temporary while she redecorates. She takes Ella's sewing things and other possessions and hands them to Ella, calling them bric a brac, and asking her to take them to the attic with her. “Keep you amused,” she adds with a condescending smile. Ella makes her way up to the distant, forlorn attic, exiled in her own home. She sets down her possessions and looks around the attic, taking it all in. It's empty, musty, and dingy, but Ella takes it with a smile. “Well,” she says, putting a good face on it, “no one will disturb me here.”
It is frustrating to see good people suffer and evil people get what they want. In the case of Ella, it is especially infuriating to watch her cruel stepmother take advantage of Ella's kindness and goodness to get her way and make Ella feel like an unwanted stranger in her own home. We can look all around us and see injustice in the world. From characters like Ella and her stepmother in the movies, to bullies at school, to people who lie and cheat at work to get ahead, to ISIS and the Middle-East crisis. The world is full of evil people who seem to succeed at the expense of the good people around them. We may ask, where is the justice in the world? Where is our just God at work? At times like these, we may feel like the Psalmist Asaph, who wrote, “For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Psalm 73:3) Asaph goes on in the Psalm, asking God why the wicked do not suffer as the righteous do. But David also writes in the Psalms that we should not fret because of evil doers, nor should we envy them. Their time will pass and they will be finished. Instead, we should delight ourselves in the Lord, and he will give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:1-4). Asaph even concludes his Psalm by saying that those who are far from God will perish, so we should draw close to God (Psalm 73:27-28). Not only should we not envy the wicked who succeed when we are suffering, the Bible also tells us in James that we should face our trials with joy. God will use our trials and sufferings to produce a steadfastness in our faith, and help us draw even closer to God (James 1:2-4). When Ella is banished to the attic of her own home, she is not bitter towards or envious of her stepfamily. She knows that she possesses something that they will never have. For all of their cruelty and schemes, Ella's stepfamily is never truly happy or content. Ella clings to the love her mother left her and her challenge to,“have courage and be kind.” We have an even greater hope than Ella and possess an even greater power than the love of a mother. When we watch the evil in this world succeeding around us, we can know that God is working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). So when things are difficult, draw near to God and he will draw near to you (James 4:8), and know that, though evil may succeed for a season, their time will come, and their end is certain. As for those who follow God, a day is coming, when the pain of this world will be behind us (Revelation 21:4). We have more than a royal ball awaiting us, more than a prince, more than a spell that ends at midnight. We have a happily ever after with our savior, the Lord Christ Jesus.