Psalm 73 (NIV)
1 Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.
5 They are free from common human burdens;
they are not plagued by human ills.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.
7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
their evil imaginations have no limits.
8 They scoff, and speak with malice;
with arrogance they threaten oppression.
9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them
and drink up waters in abundance.
11 They say, “How would God know?
Does the Most High know anything?”
12 This is what the wicked are like—
always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.
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
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.
21 When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
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.
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.
In Psalm 73, the psalmist (Asaph) was feeling bitter. He looked around him and saw bad guys getting ahead while he faithfully labored away in obscurity, barely eking out a living. He lamented his situation by saying, “Did I purify my heart and wash my hands in innocence for nothing? For I am afflicted all day long and punished every morning” (vv. 13-14).
Accepting your current lot in life doesn’t mean you necessarily like how everything has gone or that you shouldn’t try to change what needs changing. It means you can’t let regret, fear or bitterness prevent you from making the best of the situation. You’ll continue to trust God and worship Him, regardless of your circumstances.
Reinhold Niebuhr has a great quote regarding this very idea. It is one of my favorite quotes of all-time. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Life is primarily about what happens on the inside, not the outside. Asaph needed a little perspective, and he got it when he entered God’s sanctuary for worship. It was then that he understood that God judges the arrogant and godless. And he could see that his labors were not in vain. Joy returned and bitterness fled his heart.
God reminds us of this in 1 Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)
58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Asaph saw, perhaps for the first time in a while, that God is supremely valuable and satisfying. What a remarkable transformation! While things in this life don’t always seem fair, God will make everything right in the end. Look to Him to find true and lasting satisfaction.
Are there any ways you have not accepted the way your life has unfolded? If so, maybe it is time to step back and focus on the big picture. Know that God will make all wrongs right in the end. God is supremely just so know that these wrongs are just temporary and will seem like a distant memory once you reach the other side.
Lord, help us to accept with joy the good and perfect plan You have for our lives. Forgive us when we grumble, and teach us to view life with an eternal perspective. Above all, help us to love and worship You.