Psalm 73, & 77-78
Yesterday we read the short short story (2 verses) of Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:9, 10). He prayed. God granted his request. Remember, we don’t know the timeline for the life of Jabez. Since he had requested from God the expansion of his territory (amongst other things) I feel it is most likely that this answer didn’t come with a snap of the fingers -though God can certainly work that way when He wants to. I wonder if this answer was achieved over a period of time, with some persistence and wisdom and work required from Jabez. But still – it sounds so simple and sweet. A fairy-tale ending in just two verses. Jabez prayed. God granted his request.
But, what about the times when the answer isn’t coming. We may be praying hard – with a good measure of persistence, wisdom and work, too. But, it’s just not coming together like we thought a good God would do.
I think of Job and the 41 long, difficult, trying chapters of his story – before the final 42nd chapter when we see God finally shower Job once again with double the blessings. It would be great to read the book of Job today to remember Job’s anguish – and God’s answer. Or, you can read Psalm 73 – it is like a mini book of Job boiled down into one powerful psalm.
The author of this psalm begins by acknowledging that he knows God is good. And, yet, he personally had nearly lost his way and his faith because of his own serious struggles while simultaneously watching the wicked prosper. He saw boastful, callous, violent, evil men succeeding and growing in popularity and wealth, all while denying and even mocking God. Are we sure this wasn’t written in 2020, perhaps during a Covid-19 epidemic? Haven’t we seen and heard the same thing this week and shook our heads and asked, “Where is God? This isn’t right or just or fair? The world is too messed up!” And we sink down deeper in our despair. As the psalmist said, “When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me…” (Psalm 73:16)
Yes – keep reading! The good stuff is coming – just like it came for Jabez and Job and the psalmist, it is coming for you and for me. Though it does require a little bit of action on our part. The psalmist reveals the secret. He wrote, he was oppressed UNTIL he, “entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” (Psalm 73:17). Look to God. Put yourself smack dab in His presence. Intentionally seek Him out. Change your focus. Consider the whole timeline, the big picture. Look into the future. Consider the consequences and coming judgement. Rest in knowing God has got this. And He has got me. And if you let Him, He has got you.
The rest of this psalm has beautiful passages of God’s strength, guidance, comfort, plan, wisdom, & protection in any and every situation. Don’t miss the chance to read it for yourself and soak it in. Which verse is your favorite in Psalm 73?
Also, don’t miss out on the powerful truths in Psalm 77 & 78. Psalm 77 begins much the same way Psalm 73 did – in agony and despair. And maybe you have been there yourself sometime? Perhaps you have asked yourself, “Has his unfailing love vanished forever?..Has God forgotten to be merciful?” (Psalm 77:8, 9).
And yet – here again we will see a great turn-around. In a few short verses he will be writing, “Your ways, O God, are holy, What god is so great as our God?” (Psalm 77:13). What makes the difference? What happened in-between verse 9 and 13? Did he win the lottery? Did he get all his wishes granted in the sudden snap of his fingers? It had looked so hopeless. What changed?
10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
His situation did NOT change. His thinking did.
What he was focusing on changed. He rewired his brain, his thought processes, his attitude, his words, his outlook. He remembered the good God had done. He meditated on God’s work.
The anguish and oppressive depression doesn’t have to win, even in a situation that appears so bleak. You may find yourself in the dark, questioning God. You are not alone. But, don’t allow yourself to remain in the dark. Keep stepping towards the light. You don’t have to wait until your circumstances change. Instead, change your view. Enter His Sanctuary. Search for the good things He has done – in the past and today. Seek Him. Read His Word. Remind yourself of His power, faithfulness and love.
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+73%2C+77-78&version=NIV
Tomorrow we will jump back to 1 Chronicles – for just one chapter (6) as we continue our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan