Asaph was a temple choir worship leader.
In Psalm 73 he admits,
“My feet had almost slipped”.
What did he mean?
He envied the prosperous with their healthy, strong bodies.
Their wealth freed them from common burdens.
They flaunted their arrogance–
and God stayed silent.
Injustice made Asaph conclude,
“Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure;
. . . I have been punished every morning”.
I, too, envy.
I envy the man who can walk,
the man not imprisoned in a wheelchair,
the man not threatened by spreading cancer,
the old man with strength remaining,
the old man not a burden to his wife.
I don’t begrudge them;
I just want what they have.
I pray for healing–at least some—
but the enthroned God sits silent,
while I I grow weaker.
I know Scriptures’ reasons.
But instead of faith growing stronger;
instead of endurance, character, hope;
instead of satisfaction with God;
like my body, my faith, weakens.
I still believe with my mind,
but, I think, not with my heart.
A fight is raging; I’m losing.
Having confessed his slippery foothold,
“If I had said, ‘I will speak thus,’
I would have betrayed your children”.
Instead of passing on the faith;
instead of leading the next generation
to walk in trust in Yahweh;
he would have tainted them with doubt
and troubled their faith with unbelief.
But he did “speak thus”.
This psalm is his confession,
read by generations.
I don’t want to betray God’s children.
I want to be a paragon of faith
for the next generation and beyond.
So I hesitate to write my “confession”.
I want to weigh down no one.
But at times God is silent.
And we’re left only with promises on a page.
Occasionally I long to feel God’s nearness.
Instead, I’m left with only words,
“I will never leave you”.
I want–I think I need–more.
I read of sufferers suddenly surrounded
by a sense of God’s presence.
Or feeling bathed in love from above.
“Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure”.
But I haven’t.
I’ve entertained sinful thoughts.
I’ve doubted God’s love.
I’ve questioned Jesus’ Father,
who knows how to give good gifts to his children.
I’ve complained about a stone instead of bread.
Asaph, feet slipping, declared,
” . . . till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny”.
God will sweep away the carefree unbeliever,
but take the believer into eternal glory.
Years ago, when I read this psalm
and came to “then I understood their final destiny”,
I’d smile with self-satisfied wisdom
Of course, final destiny makes the difference.
And I’d be content with little wealth or poor health,
because in the end God would be more than just–forever.
Now for me the end comes near.
I can’t walk. I ache. I have cancer. I can’t see well.
I think of 70-somethings who walk, even run.
Their aches are minimal. Cancer-free. Good vision.
I envy them.
Tell me of others who suffer far worse.
Tell me I’ve outlived my father and brother.
Still, envy rears its head.
And, final destiny, seems less good.
How can that be?
Final destiny means, not only justice,
Yet, these are my honest feelings.
the emotions I sometimes wrestle with.
I want to walk now.
I want to be well now.
I want cancer gone now.
I decide that in the end,
Christianity comes down to the end,
to the final destiny.
Only then we know its truth.
Only then, as we used to sing, we’ll know
“It will be worth it all when we see Jesus”.
Today I’m weak again.
My vision is poor.
I struggle to write this.
But I do because I imagine
this may help a fellow-believer in his struggles
and to prepare others for what may lie ahead.
And I write with this prayer:
“Lord, give me eyes to see life
from the place of final destiny.
So that, with Asaph,
my feet do not slip
and I do not lose my foothold.”