Yesterday we remembered the 9/11 attacks which took place 15 years ago. For my family, we also celebrate the birthday of my oldest child. For the past 15 years, we have had an odd juxtaposition of remembering, solemnity, and celebration. Psalm 73 puts into words some of the thoughts I’ve had about this and points to how to respond to evil.
One of the hardest things for me to understand is why wicked people seem to prosper, get rich, and live easy lives. I admit, there have been times I have become envious of others who are not living a Christ-like life because of their wealth and success. The Psalmist describes them as fat-cats, wearing pride like a jeweled necklace, having everything their hearts wish for, and living painless lives. The writer asks God this question, “Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?” I’ve had those same thoughts looking at the evil in the world and seeing those who perpetrate it and seem to get rich and escape justice. How should I respond instead?
Verse 21 expresses how I believe God wants me to think and act: “Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside.” Hard to admit, but so true. And only admitting that I’ve been bitter and envious can I reach the point of thankfulness that the psalmist models in the final verses, offering up praises to God saying, “…I belong to you; you hold my right had. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny…my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart…I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter.”
I you, like me, have been tempted to compare your life to others, to be envious and wonder why we even try to live a godly life, take time to read this Psalm and appreciate how God can change your mind, your perspective, and your grumblings into thanksgiving.