Psalm 73 perfectly describes the push and pull of faithfully following God. It’s such a reminder of what happens when you start looking sideways.
“For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. They seem to love 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.”
This chapter is:
-Validating that life with God is the road less traveled and harder.
-Prompting us to count the cost of following God and reminding us that if we are not sacrificing something, we’re not doing it right.
-Making me laugh really hard with the verse “these fat cats have everything!”
This chapter is not:
-Giving us permission to resent other people or become self-righteous.
-Allowing us to unify over brokenness. Instead, we should be brokenhearted for those following a path we know leads to emptiness.
-Wanting you to compare your life to others, inside or outside of the church, and claim favor on your life in the name of God. That is not humility.
We’ve all been there. You glance around and realize how much more fun it’d be to spend all your time, money and resources on yourself. That you could be sleeping in and going out to brunch on Sunday mornings instead of church. Just last week, I thought about how exhausting it is to stay intentional in life and how much easier it would be to zone out and disengage and distract myself with food and social media 100% of the time. (As opposed to the 60% I already do. Gulp.)
But then I have a beautiful moment of experiencing God’s presence. And I’m led into repentance of my wandering heart and deep sorrow for those living a deeply unsatisfying life. My prayer is that God would wring out every drop of pride from in me and I would be extending true compassion to the lost in those moments. That I would respond the way the psalmist did when discontentment and anxiety reared its head:
“Then I realized that my heart was bitter, that 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. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength for 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.” 73:21-28
Does your heart mirror the first half of chapter 73? Or the second? What catches your eye in life? What does your heart wander towards? God doesn’t want us to be in a relationship with him, looking back over our shoulder at the life we left behind. He doesn’t want us to look sideways, comparing our circumstances, but fixing our eyes on what’s above (Colossians 3:2), awaiting our glorious destiny.