I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. -Psalm 119:11
"But as for me, the nearness of God is my good..."
If you’ve walked with the Lord for any length of time, you will have realized that walking on His path doesn’t mean the removal of hardships, disappointments, suffering or sorrow. In fact, for some it may even feel as though surrendering to Christ has given permission for those things to take a comfortable seat in your life.
If we are honest with ourselves, we may have been tempted to look at the lives of those who live without any obedience to Christ and envy their ease of life or their successes in their pursuits. We may even have asked God, “why do they live with such ease while I am experiencing hardship?”
Take comfort in knowing that we aren’t alone in comparing our lives with those who are not of faith. In God’s word, we see Asaph, a psalmist, describing the tension of those temptations.
Asaph’s obedience to God wasn’t a road paved with roses. It cost him a lot as he experienced many hardships and pain. In despair and discontentment, he found himself almost slipping from the ways of God as his attention was fixed on those who seemed to be living “the life.” The hardships he faced tempted him to envy the arrogant. Seeing the ease by which they did whatever their hearts desired looked appealing to him. Ease and wealth followed them and he thought he wanted what they had. He thought their life was more comfortable than being comforted by God in his distress. He thought…until he came before the Lord’s presence and received the wisdom to see clearly.
“Until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end…” (Psalm 73:17)
You see, in the Lord’s presence, Asaph was reminded of the eternal weight of glory that surpassed the momentary affliction that he faced. (2 Corin. 4:17-18) God’s wisdom reminded him that suffering and hardship IN the Lord is far better than ease and wealth WITHOUT the Lord. Those that David envied didn’t understand that they stood on slippery grounds. Destruction would be their end because their pride kept them from the knowledge that without God, their labor, their wealth, and their pursuits were all in vain. And although they increased in wealth by the world’s standards, their soul was depleted. "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew `6:26). But in Christ, while hardship and sorrow may visit us, it isn’t without Hope of the One who has our soul in His hands.
Asaph came to his senses and with great humility said one of the most powerful declarations in Scripture,
“Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.” (Psalm 73:25-28)
We live in a world that tempts us to desire the easy road. To chase wealth. To take comfort in the world’s good. To blame God for discomfort and to take matters into our hands instead of trusting in the Lord. And just like Asaph, we can find ourselves embittered by life’s circumstances and seek ease outside of Him.
“Nevertheless, I am continually with You. You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me…” (Psalm 73: 23-24).
This psalmist reminds us of the keeping power of God for those in Him. God knows our frailty-that our flesh and heart may fail, but He doesn’t hold that against us. His saving grace keeps us and helps us look up when what we see in our world is brokenness, disappointment, sorrow, pain, and hopelessness.
He gives us clarity and perspective. He gives us the wisdom to see that His nearness is better than any wealth we can accumulate; to see that there is more peace found in His nearness than any success we can achieve. And there is more hope found in His nearness than any hopeless situation we find ourselves in.
His nearness is our good. And our righteousness found in Him is NOT in vain. Rest in that beloved.
The weekly devotionals seek to encourage you to dig deeper into Scripture as you take the time to daily read, meditate, and internalize the verses in the devotional, along with the passages provided below to give greater context. Take the time to read them throughout the week (repetition is important) and ask the Holy Spirit to help you grasp what God is showing you about Himself, about you, and how to live in light of these truths.
Passages to read/memorize/meditate:
Psalm 73 (Encourage you to read whole chapter)
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
2 Corinthians 5:9
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
1 Peter 4:12-13
1 Peter 5:7-10
Questions to reflect on: