Have you felt weak at the knees from your circumstances? Have you tried to keep following God even when it was painful or difficult while you see others around you painlessly go through life as a spiritual spoiled brat? Do their actions contribute in some way to your circumstances today? Be encouraged.
You are more than a conqueror in Christ (Rom 8:37). But circumstances may make you feel defeated and weak. Psalm 73 (where the title of this post comes from), written by Asaph, gives us a guideline on a way out of feelings (not truth) of defeat and weakness:
1. Express yourself to the Lord authentically. He can take it. He cares for you.
2. Evaluate your situation not from mere human eyes based on the seen physical things but based on the unseen things, the eternal perspective. Go into God’s presence. There, you will gain strength, wisdom, encouragement, and the grace you need to move forward.
2 Cor 4:18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
3. Exchange the lie that makes you doubt God and His word (which causes you to feel weak and defeated) for His truth. His word is where you will find His truth.
These are the stages documented in Psalm 73:
1. Praising God for being good to His people who are pure in heart (v1).
2. Confessing that his feet almost slipped because he envied the arrogant when he saw them prosper (v2-3).
3. Focusing on the seemingly unjust circumstances: He points out that their bodies are healthy, they have no struggles (v4), and this causes them to be proud and “clothe themselves with violence”. They are carefree, callous hearted, scoffing, speaking with malice, committing iniquity (Immoral or grossly unfair behavior), having limitless evil imagination, giving arrogant threats, yet gaining followers, amassing wealth, thinking that God would not know any of their actions (vv4-12);
4. Asaph started to feel that it was useless to keep his heart pure and felt sorry for himself. Keeping his heart pure came at a sacrifice, he was afflicted and felt punished daily. He could not speak out just as he pleased because of his reverence to God. Verse 16 shows that sometimes when circumstances around us don’t make sense and there is much wickedness and lawlessness going on around us and we try to use logic, we just get troubled. We have a God who has commanded that we cast our burdens to Him.
13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments.
15 If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children.
16 When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply
5. What changed his whole outlook was when he went into the presence of Holy God. Asaph became enlightened. He understood what the bottomline for the wicked is: destruction, ruin, completely swept away by terrors. Their passing pride, wealth, and oppression of others, as they themselves will be as gone, despised as fantasies.
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.
18 Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin.
19 How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!
20 They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord,
you will despise them as fantasies.
6. Asaph understood his folly in doubting God, in doubting that serving Him was in vain, in allowing his spirit to be embittered.
21 When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
7. Asaph came back on track with his walk with the Lord, recognizing His eternal perspective for the future and the present benefits of making Him Lord in the here and now.
23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
27 Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
8. After Asaph’s sojourn in almost slipping, envying the wicked who prospered, feeling sorry for himself as he doubted why he had to keep his heart pure, he sought the Lord and in His presence, that’s where Asaph understood that the future of the wicked is destruction. Asaph saw that even while he almost slipped, God continues to hold, guide him and take him to His glory.
God is the strength of his heart. God is His only desire. Even in his failures and weaknesses, God will continue to be the strength of his heart. Despite the wicked around him continuing in their pride and prosperity, Asaph makes God Himself his refuge. Regardless of their behaviour, Asaph decided to declare as a witness God’s deeds.
No longer envious of the prosperity of the arrogant, Asaph was restored with the right perspective with God as his focus and center, his source of strength, and his everything. He delights in his present and future with God.
28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.
Here are some verses that talk about Asaph:
2 Chronicles 29:30
King Hezekiah and his officials ordered the Levites to praise the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with gladness and bowed down and worshiped.
1 Chronicles 25:5-7 5 (All these were sons of Heman the king’s seer. They were given him through the promises of God to exalt him. God gave Heman fourteen sons and three daughters.)
6 All these men were under the supervision of their father for the music of the temple of the Lord, with cymbals, lyres and harps, for the ministry at the house of God.
Asaph, Jeduthun and Heman were under the supervision of the king. 7 Along with their relatives—all of them trained and skilled in music for the Lord—they numbered 288.