I had a good study in Psalm 73 a few days ago, about how the wicked seem to prosper while God’s children seem to suffer. I was thinking about how suffering (burdens, weariness, being tired of the fight) are not always a sign that you aren’t in good standing with the Lord.
A lot of times we think it is, at least I know I do. If I find myself burdened, with a weight sitting on my chest so heavy I physically hurt, I immediately think “I haven’t been in the Word enough. I haven’t prayed enough. My life is deficient in some way.”
Any kind of suffering = a lack somewhere in my faith.
Somewhere, in the back of my mind, there’s this tiny expectation that good fellowship with God consists of a baby cherub playing the harp on every street corner as I pass. I glow. The Bible glows. Rainbows spew out of my mouth when I speak and negative words bounce off me like bullets off of Captain America’s vibranium shield. Anything less is the product of a fatal human flaw pushing its way through the praise and worship choir doing the soundtrack of my life.
However, Psalm 73 had something different to say.
Following Jesus is hard. It’s murder of your own wants and desires and even what feels like a need to seek after Him. It’s cutting out idols and making areas of your life more disciplined. It’s trying to stay in fellowship with Jesus while other people (especially other Christians) tell you that you’re not clean enough for Jesus to delight in you. It’s constantly fighting against Satan’s lies and fear and worry. It’s hard. Really really hard.
And it’s a struggle.
When you’re not a Christian you never have to worry about any of these things. The world is fat and happy living in their sin. They want for nothing. They don’t go to war with themselves. They don’t appear to struggle.
David says: “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.”
That is one thing I often forget to do when I feel slighted by this life I’ve chosen. I hide in shame instead of coming to worship. The way life happens to us will never make sense outside of God’s presence, that’s why He says, “come to ME, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
“When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
THIS. This is what it’s all about. Worship. Love. Fellowship. We are always with Jesus. He is always near us. When is the last time you sat and told God with all honesty, “there is nothing on earth I that desire besides you?” Do we desire comfort more than the Lord? To be liked? To have the appearance of prosperity? Are these things a higher priority to us than the knowledge that an almighty God delights in us? Even when we do prioritize the wrong things, when we chase after earthly comfort and get bitter about how hard it is to take up our cross and follow Jesus
Even when it all seems unfair, we are safe within the hands of a loving and gentle God. A God who delights in us – in our efforts. In our attempts. We are always and forever wrapped in endless grace.