During a Spring Art’s Festival when I still lived in Oklahoma, Rhonda and I had planned to meet for lunch and enjoy the afternoon festivities. I was working at the time on the 17th floor of a building downtown that looked down upon the parking lot nearby the Art Festival. She was not familiar with driving downtown at the time and facing the traffic was a stressful experience. In addition to the normal traffic there was the redirected traffic from the roads closed off by the festival. Needless to say, she was having a hard time navigating through it all. From the 17th floor, I could look out the window and see the traffic flow AND the empty spots in the parking lot so I called her on her cell phone and was able to tell her where and when to turn so that she could find the empty spot. Had we not been in the age of the cell phone, there would have been several moments in which frustration would have overtaken her, when she couldn’t see why the traffic was stopped in front of her or where the empty parking places were. What was the difference? The circumstances remained the same. The difference was in the perspective. Without the added perspective from above, doubt of getting through or finding a place to park might have caused her to give up and go home.
The psalmist too has this experience; only it is his faith that he begins to doubt. It isn’t traffic but the prosperity of the wicked that frustrates him. Why does God allow Christians to suffer and the wicked to prosper? It’s a tough question. But even beyond that, what do you do when your experience doesn’t match your expectations? How are you to handle your doubts?
A Psalm of Asaph.
73:1 Truly God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
3 For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 For they have no pangs until death;
their bodies are fat and sleek.
5 They are not in trouble as others are;
they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
violence covers them as a garment.
7 Their eyes swell out through fatness;
their hearts overflow with follies.
8 They scoff and speak with malice;
loftily they threaten oppression.
9 They set their mouths against the heavens,
and their tongue struts through the earth.
10 Therefore his people turn back to them,
and find no fault in them.
11 And they say, “How can God know?
Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
12 Behold, these are the wicked;
always at ease, they increase in riches.
13 All in vain have I kept my heart clean
and washed my hands in innocence.
14 For all the day long I have been stricken
and rebuked every morning.
15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
I would have betrayed the generation of your children.
16 But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
17 until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end.
18 Truly you set them in slippery places;
you make them fall to ruin.
19 How they are destroyed in a moment,
swept away utterly by terrors!
20 Like a dream when one awakes,
O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.
21 When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
22 I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward you.
23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that 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 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
28 But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works. (ESV)