Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What to Do with Despondency

This post is based on Psalm 73.  It is a wonderful Psalm that does not get a lot of airtime.  It was preached this Sunday at my church, and I thought I would add my thoughts.

Truly God is good to Israel,
    to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
    my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
    when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

I think we all can relate to Asaph who wrote this psalm.  You could be with someone who never smoked in their life and are still dying of cancer at a young age.  You compare them to someone who smokes, drinks, parties, lives in squalor, and still lives to a healthy age and prospers without having to spend money on medical bills.  Is God playing some joke?  Does he really care about the people who follow him?  The truth is, he is still good and his eye is still on his people.

Next, you see people in Hollywood who live in mansions and travel the world who don't actually work a real job.  Their job is to pretend to be someone else on camera.  You see the NBA players who are rolling in money and still end up in jail.  Then you see teachers and firefighters who risk their lives but earn very little money.  This is not fair at all.

16 But when I thought how to understand this,
    it seemed to me a wearisome task,
17 until I went into the sanctuary of God;
    then I discerned their end.

Then we finally notice God again.  He is still in heaven ruling.  His commandments still apply to today even if people flagrantly thwart them.  You notice that the President takes my money and takes luxurious vacations to Africa, but then I notice that Tim and I have more room to be creative.  We explore parks, trails, tourist traps, read books, play games, watch Doctor Who, and we have so much more fulfillment in life than our President could ever have.  We also don't live on TV like William and Kate.  Our lives are our own and we belong to God.

We also notice that we have a security in a hope that this world cannot offer.  Most of the people Asaph envies in this psalm have hope only for this world and this life.  There is no joy in knowing that Jesus is going to come and right every wrong.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

According to Piper, in the Hebrew, this verse actually says "my heart and flesh fail."  No maybe.  They are failing.  Where does my strength come from?  Only God.  He is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  Without God, there is no reason for happiness or humor.  We are only numbing the pain of life until God arrives and shows you a different reality that outshines the world we see now.

Imagine a man with a degenerative disease that will kill him at a young age.  He lives in a wheelchair.  He may have a funny blog site and make people laugh, but does he know genuine joy?  Does he know Jesus?  If he does not know Jesus, then there is no reason to hope that God will have mercy on his elect and eventually depose the godless elite who rule the world.  His hope is for this life only until he meets the Lord and begins to have hope for a new, complete body in the life to come.  It is great that God gives common grace to those who will not be saved so that even they can have joy in life, but let us not as Christians look to them for hope and meaning unless they truly know the only Light worth knowing and the only cure to our sin disease.  You may not understand Him completely, but you must seek him out like a hidden treasure and ignore all the counterfeits from other faiths.


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