Tuesday, December 1, 2009

God's Truth vs Our Experience

Have you ever felt that God's truth, revealed in the Bible, isn't true? Do you ever think that what you are experiencing contradicts God's Word? It can be relatively easy to find ourselves questioning God when things aren't rosy in our lives.

This was the situation Asaph found himself in. He found himself feeling like God's Word wasn't true, because of what he was experiencing. In Psalm 73, Asaph is struggling with what he perceives to be a lack of God's presence in his life. He sees people around him who don't give a rip about God, yet they are loving and enjoying life. They seem to be doing just fine. Asaph is trying to do what's right and its hard. Its a struggle. He doesn't experientially feel God's presence. He feels alone.

He starts off the Psalm, in v. 1, acknowledging the truth about God--that He is good. He knows God and knows what the Bible says about God.

But his feelings quickly come out. In v. 2-11, he expresses his perception that the wicked are getting hooked up by God, while he is living a holy life while being ignored. It seems to Asaph like the unbelievers are having a blast in their sin; they mock God and don't care. It seems like life is going great for them, while his life isn't.

Verse 12 sums up his feelings: that the wicked have peace and joy and happiness, yet he does not.

In v. 13-16, he gets really emotional. We see the inner struggle of what all Christians go through: Is holy living really worth it? Even when its hard? Even when its not fun? Even when it seems impossible?

In these verses, Asaph begins to wonder if the whole "following God/obeying God" thing he's been doing his whole life is really worth it. Has he been walking with God for nothing? The words drip of pain, bitterness, and hurt. Its not a momentary feeling, but its Asaph's constant experience.

He wants to be careful not to cause others to stumble or fall because of his fears and perceptions (v. 15), but he can't keep these emotions below the surface (v. 16).

So, what can He do? Is God unfair? Does God care? Where is God?

Asaph finds his answer by going to God. Even though it doesn't seem like God is there or that God doesn't care, Asaph goes to God. Asaph finds refuge in the only place that provides help: God.

Asaph finishes the Psalm (v. 17-28) retelling what God has taught him. He realizes how sinful he has acted toward God (v. 22). He is convicted (by the Holy Spirit) and repents of his sin to God (v. 21). Despite his unfaithfulness to Him, Asaph acknowledges God's presence (v. 23) and that God has always been there (v. 24). Asaph knows that this life will be marred with trial after trial, but he looks forward to the day when he will be with God in glory (v. 24).

Then come some of the most precious verses in the Bible:

"Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You. My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the Strength of my heart and my Portion forever."
--Psalm 73: 25-26

The psalmist acknowledges that nothing in this life will satisfy like God. He wants nothing but God. He is satisfied with God and God alone. Good or bad. Even if everything fails, God will not. God is his Strength and Portion. Forever.
Every Christian goes through times of spiritual dryness: times where we sing and don't feel the presence of God; times where we pray and don't feel the presence of God; times where we serve and don't feel the presence of God.

This does not show spiritual immaturity or a distrust in God. Its the result of His redeemed people living on a cursed earth--people who long to feel his presence but are marred with sin.

So, in these times, though God may seem distant, cling to God.

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