Our trip through the Ozark National Forest taught a very important lesson. Our rig is big! With that size, we have to be more cautious with our routes. Not everything is fair game. We found ourselves following a pretty stressful stretch of road. Lots of ups and downs and that left sitting on the side of the road several times.
Its times like this when it’s easy to let stress, anger, and even a little doubt creep in and take over. Why wouldn’t you? Why wouldn’t these feelings come in and try to distract you from what you know to be true? Obviously, at this point, we are talking about something else besides a little overheating issue on the side of the road.
It does us well to remember our feelings, even the ones that are less pleasant, are not new. In fact, human emotion has remained rather constant throughout the ages. When it comes to understanding emotion, Biblically, I like to turn to the Book of Psalms. This book is saturated with passages of laments, praise, and joy. What better place to help us process and understand our emotions than from the one that created them.
One thing we should realize is our emotions are not something to be feared, but yet we should be open and honest with them to the one that created them. Do you think when you get sad and angry there is any part of God that’s surprised? He has seen it before and through his spirit helped many people work through the exact same doubts that maybe you struggle with today. He’s been there, done that, got the t-shirt right.
See God, through Psalms, is teaching us to not be overtaken or overwhelmed by our emotions but yet to pray through them and cope with them as only our Creator could show us how.
This should encourage us as we read and study Psalms. Because there is a God that wants to communicate with you and he does that through His Word. So if there is a God that created everything and wants to speak to us through His Word why wouldn’t we try to listen. Especially true for Psalms because this book gets to the very core of the human experience. I specifically want to point to Psalm 73. You can’t read Psalm 73 and not feel a little uneasy in your seat. Because at one time or another we have all struggled with doubt. We have all known what we are supposed to believe but there is just something that pulls us away.
Isn’t it interesting that we have scriptures like Psalm 73 in the Bible? We actually have scripture, God speaking to us, that contains instruction on how to process and pray through doubting the very scripture you are trying to read. Let me try to word that a little differently. God is literally providing us with the sugar to help the medicine go down. He is recognizing that this is a difficult thing to believe in the first place and thus in God’s ultimate grace and wisdom inspires the writing of Psalm 73 to help us process through doubt as we are reading the very thing we are doubting.
So let’s get into and unpack this a little and start by acknowledging what it is the Psalmist is doubting. The first verse is “Surely God is Good”
Now in this being “good”, we mean more than just simply being nice. Being good requires action. Something that would directly affect our human experience. For example, if we believed an extremely reclusive relative that never called or visited and never wanted to visit, but he was described as “nice” that wouldn’t mean much to you. But if that relative chose to throw some cash your way “nice” takes on a different definition. Now he is being good.
Why is that important? Well, the rest of Psalm 73 we see the reasons why Asaph is doubting the goodness of God because he is seeing the blessings and riches being poured out to those that obviously don’t deserve it. He’s envious of what he is seeing and gets stuck in that emotion to the point that he “almost stumbles” in verse 2.
What Asaph is seeing, or experiencing, is in direct opposition to what he knows to be true. That is, “God is good.” If God is good then why are these other people getting rich and I’m stuck eating off-brand baked beans! If God is so good why does that corrupt businessman get the Corvette and I’m having to pour a quart of oil in my old 95 S10 every other day? I follow you, God, I believe in you, what’s up!?
The truth is Doubt is not incompatible with our Christian walk.
The truth is that our limited perception hinders us and we would be arrogant to think that what we see is all there is. Or even what we experience is all that matters. The truth is that allowing these feelings to take root and drive us away from God is exactly what the enemy is driving for. The truth is Doubt is not incompatible with our Christian walk. That’s a lie.
In fact, the enemy wants to use these feelings of doubt and envy to separate us further from God and fellow believers. If he can turn our feelings against us and drive that wedge that’s a good day for him. But luckily we have Psalms like 73 that prove by its very existence is evidence that God recognizes the difficulty of faith. So be encouraged by this. I don’t think we have to try to hard to make this Psalm relatable. We get the concepts of envy and doubt and struggle with them. But God is not afraid of those emotions he welcomes them.
Our sin can make us feel alone and isolated. This was a tactic used from the beginning by the enemy. He got Eve alone and that’s when she fell. (Gen 3) Our sin, if left unchecked, can lead to a similar end. That God we have Jesus that came to remove our sin and free us from being enslaved by it. Our corruption starts from the beginning and we are no different today. It is only through faith in what Jesus has done on the cross that we can be set free.
My prayer today is that you don’t hide from God and fellow believers, could the enemy wants you isolated. Focus on the ultimate objective truth that God is good and maybe we are just missing something. Remember how Psalm 73 ends, “Who do I have in heaven but you.”