When things turn dark. . .

The injustices in the world are overwhelming, not just in number but in what they do to us. When the bad guys are winning, we become angry, perhaps depressed, and even cynical. Worst of all, seeing evil go unpunished, and liars getting away with their deception can even bring about a crisis of faith.

“Where is God?” we wonder.

The psalmist Asaph, in Psalm 73, explains how he regained his perspective when evil seemed the darkest. He begins with how his frustrations had brought him nearly to despair (vv. 2, 3):
“But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”

The next few verses describe how the evil ones seem to go through life unscathed. They even boast of their exploits in unrighteousness (vv. 4-12). Then Asaph makes the fatal comparison (vv. 13, 14):
“Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure;
in vain I have washed my hands in innocence.
All day long I have been plagued;
I have been punished every morning.”

“Why is God disciplining me, and showing me my sin, when His enemies ignore Him and they go unscathed?” Who hasn’t asked that question?

He apparently knew he was on the wrong track, for he kept his negative thinking to himself (v. 15). And while he tried, in vain, to make sense of it all by himself, he gained insight at last, by going to church! He puts it this way (vv. 16, 17):
“When I tried to understand all this,
it was oppressive to me.
till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.”

The next verses tell how God’s justice is sure, and we need not worry about evil going unpunished. No one gets away with it (vv. 18-20).

But the best part is how this assurance comforted him and restored his tenuous relationship with God. Bitterness of spirit and grief had come from his ignorance and waywardness (vv. 21, 22). That is what happens when we play God, and think we are more just than He.

But going to the sanctuary to worship, to meditate, to hear God’s word proclaimed, to be in the presence of God’s people–all of that combined to help him reshape his warped perspective.

Read this psalm out loud, quietly, when you are alone. Pray its emotions back to God. That is why Asaph recorded it.

And then, join God’s people in worship, where your own spirit can be renewed. That is why God ordained it.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—
and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Hebrews 10:24,25

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