Ever wonder if living for God is worth it?
Why do corrupt people get to enjoy nice things? Why do greedy, manipulative people get away with their actions? How can someone run a company into the ground and then walk away, scot-free? Why are many believers struggling with health issues, money issues, and relationship issues when so many non-believers appear to live on Easy Street?
Maybe you have asked someone these questions, or perhaps you’re like a lot of Christians – we have secretly wondered, but are afraid to admit to it. Either we’re ashamed of our doubts, or we don’t want to trip up someone else by vocalizing our own struggles.
However, we’re not alone in our wonderings. 3,000 years ago, a poet named Asaph wondered the same things. While we enjoy the historical perspective of being able to look back to Jesus’ life and Asaph was alive well before Christ’s arrival, his writings still resonate with us:
God is indeed good to Israel, to the pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet almost slipped; my steps nearly went astray.
For I envied the arrogant; I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
It’s hard not be discouraged by the state of the world. It only appears to get worse as the years move along. How many of Asaph’s descriptions sound familiar?
They have an easy time until they die, and their bodies are well fed.
They are not in trouble like others; they are not afflicted like most people.
Therefore, pride is their necklace, and violence covers them like a garment.
Their eyes bulge out from fatness; the imaginations of their hearts run wild.
They mock, and they speak maliciously; they arrogantly threaten oppression.
They set their mouths against heaven, and their tongues strut across the earth.
Therefore His people turn to them and drink in their overflowing words.
The wicked say, “How can God know? Does the Most High know everything?”
Look at them – the wicked!
They are always at ease, and they increase their wealth.
After making these disturbing observations, Asaph begins to wonder if his efforts to stay connected to God are worth it. Although he keeps his doubts to himself, his hopeless feelings were ones he was unable to change on his own:
Did I purify my heart and wash my hands in innocence for nothing?
For I am afflicted all day long and punished every morning.
If I had decided to say these things aloud, I would have betrayed Your people.
When I tried to understand all this, it seemed hopeless until I entered God’s sanctuary.
Then I understood their destiny.
Indeed, You put them in slippery places; You make them fall into ruin.
How suddenly they become a desolation!
They come to an end, swept away by terrors.
Like one waking from a dream, Lord, when arising, You will despise their image.
When I became embittered and my innermost being was wounded,
I was stupid and didn’t understand;
I was an unthinking animal toward You.
Yet I am always with You; You hold my right hand.
You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me up in glory.
Who do I have in heaven but You?
And I desire nothing on earth but You.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever.
Those far from You will certainly perish; You destroy all who are unfaithful to You.
But as for me, God’s presence is my good.
I have made the Lord God my refuge, so I can tell about all You do.
I can so relate to Asaph’s path of doubt and wondering – which was taken care of by a perspective-changing encounter with God. Seeing life from God’s vantage point helps us out of our legitimate worries and our self-created pity parties. There have been times in my life when I, too, was a “big dumb animal” and didn’t trust God with my present circumstance. But His guidance and counsel are always there for us.
We can rest knowing that our God is big enough to handle our doubts. He’s also patient with us when we get caught up in comparing our lives with the short-term pleasures we see other people enjoy.