“But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God, then I discerned their end… My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:16-17; 26
Asaph is the author of Psalm 73, and he writes with raw vulnerability. He admits to his jealousy of those around him who appear to prosper; yet grows despondent as he internally struggles with doubt of God’s goodness. He ponders his efforts to live righteously and pursue God as being in vain. Effectively, he is declaring God as untrustworthy. However, he admits he has failed to seek God’s wisdom in his circumstances, and once he does, his heart and mind change their tune.
Although in today’s culture we are constantly updated with the external accomplishments and experiences of people we follow on social media, we cannot know their internal struggles. Asaph complains in verses three through nine as he lists all the ways the wicked people around him are doing well and it just doesn’t seem fair. He reflects a heart of jealousy and discontentment in his own life since the worldly people are prospering regardless of living a life of sin. Asaph demonstrates what most of us face, which is the misbelief that God is not doing what is best for us.
My appreciation for Asaph grows in the transition between his resentful rant from the first half of the psalm into his confession and realignment to God the latter half of this passage. I think Asaph would advise us to not be discouraged by someone else’s highlight reel. He admitted that he almost stumbled as he had his eyes fixed on the prosperity of those around him. It wasn’t until he came to his senses and sought wisdom “in the sanctuary of God” (Psalm 73:17) that his eyes were opened to the truth of God’s goodness.
Avoid having a heart of discontentment like Asaph described in the beginning of this psalm. This is a lifelong war, and the battle begins in your mind. You must take every thought captive and make it obedient to God (1 Cor. 10:5). Never forget how God is sovereign, and he promises to do what is best for you. The thing is you don’t get to decide what is best for you. You don’t get to decide if you’ll get the job or promotion. You don’t get to decide if you’re fertile or not. You don’t get to decide who likes you or approves of you. You don’t get to decide if you get sick or healed. There are unlimited cases where you are out of control. I believe God is most pleased with us when we recognize this truth and invite him to guide us because he gives us these tough situations to sanctify us. He doesn’t want us to suffer, but he always uses the struggle to simultaneously mold us into his likeness and bring himself glory.
It’s true that God does things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28), but he ultimately does things for his purpose and for his glory. Just as one man was given sight so that everyone would know the One who gives sight (John 9), God can use you to be a vessel to demonstrate to the world his glory. Let him use your circumstances to show off how he guides and strengthens those who love him. Asaph explains the necessity of being near to God so he can be sheltered from the enemy of his heart and mind (Psalm 73:28). It is only through humble obedience in trusting God by intentionally and regularly being in the Word and spending ample time in prayer that we can overcome our failing flesh and heart to live by faith.