“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. Those who desert him will perish, for you destroy those who abandon you. But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.” Psalm 73:26-28 NLT
Last month I wrote a devotion on this same verse but my message was, “God Remains”. Today I want to focus on the attitudes or feelings the psalmist experienced in this Psalm.
Many times I have cried out to the Lord as Asaph did in this Psalm. It may not have been word for word, but his words have expressed how I have felt: “Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure. But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. They seem to live such painless lives; their bodies are so healthy and strong. They don’t have troubles like other people; they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else….” (Psalm 73:1-5 NLT)
I know we are not to compare ourselves with others, but I am not alone in expressing such raw emotions and feelings when others who live wicked lives seem to prosper. Just this past month there has been friends and family members who have expressed such raw emotions when they have heard of our latest plight. We had thought that my husband Jim would have surgery on his back to help with his constant pain, “dead” right foot, and difficulty in walking; but after viewing his various scans, tests, and x-rays – the surgeons believe surgery would only cause his issues to become worse and not help his condition. They told Jim to enjoy his life the best he can and when the time comes (3 to 5 years at best) he will become wheelchair bound. Over and over again we have heard the same cries, “Oh why does Jim have to suffer so much when he has given his whole life to serve the Lord and others?”
My cries have been similar as those above and to what Asaph cried until I “cooled” down and pondered on the plight of the wicked as Asaph did as we continue to read in Psalm 73:16-25 NLT “So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked. Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. In an instant they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors. When you arise, O Lord, you will laugh at their silly ideas as a person laughs at dreams in the morning. Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant— I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.”
We have two choices – we can either become bitter and resentful concerning our challenges or we can look at the bigger picture and realize that God is God and we are not –He is in control of this world and all those who reside in it. The wicked may prosper while on earth, but in the end they will be destroyed. So if we are to suffer just a little while serving our Lord on earth – so be it - As the apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:6-7 NLT “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”
My husband Jim is taking the news of his health issues quite well. As a man who once was as strong as an ox, it is most difficult for him to ask for assistance. Each day he is finding out his limitations and learning to ask for help – even for the littlest tasks. But he is learning to swallow his pride and realizes that asking for assistance does not make him less than any man, but in so doing he is allowing others to receive blessings for their special gifts of helps.
Jim and I may have had our fair share of suffering, trials and heartache over the years, but I can say with full certainty as the Psalmist continued to write in Psalm 73:26-28 NLT
“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. Those who desert him will perish, for you destroy those who abandon you. But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.”
We choose to draw near to God and endure the challenges that may come our way rather than have the challenges cause us to become bitter and resentful. What about you? When challenges come your way what do you choose to do?