— Psalm 73:11-14, The Message
We’ve been through the mill over the past year or two, because of collapsing financial empires, home foreclosures, scandals from Washington to Wall Street, and in the Governors’ Mansions in more than one state. Fraud, deceit and downright lies have been perpetrated on the American citizenry from government officials at all levels, captains of industry, and criminals of all descriptions. Foreign dictators and terrorists spew venom we can’t imagine and it makes the world a more dangerous place than it was just yesterday.
Where is God in today’s debauched world? Why are those in power so untrustworthy? And, why do we, as Christians, feel so threatened and vulnerable?
When things seem so wrong where can we turn for solace? There’s nothing we’re going through that hasn’t been experienced by God’s people before, and in the Psalms we find the authors asking the same questions we ask today. In The Message, a modern street language paraphrase of the bible, we get the verses listed in the opening of this article from Psalm 73. Those words sound a lot like me yelling at television news almost any night of the week. How about you? Are you paraphrasing Psalm 73 verses 11-14 at your television too?
We can take our frustrations out by yelling at the TV, or yelling at God’s absence (at least from our perspective) in all of this — go ahead, the Psalmist yelled in those verses too! God can take it!
But don’t lose the blessing, as Paul Harvey would say, of “the rest of the story.” Read Psalm 73 in its entirety. Better yet, PRAY Psalm 73. You’ll feel better. Here it is from The Message.
An Asaph Psalm
No doubt about it! God is good— good to good people, good to the good-hearted.
But I nearly missed it,
missed seeing his goodness.
I was looking the other way,
looking up to the people
At the top,
envying the wicked who have it made,
Who have nothing to worry about,
not a care in the whole wide world.
Pretentious with arrogance,
they wear the latest fashions in violence,
Pampered and overfed,
decked out in silk bows of silliness.
They jeer, using words to kill;
they bully their way with words.
They’re full of hot air,
loudmouths disturbing the peace.
People actually listen to them—can you believe it?
Like thirsty puppies, they lap up their words.
What’s going on here? Is God out to lunch?
Nobody’s tending the store.
The wicked get by with everything;
they have it made, piling up riches.
I’ve been stupid to play by the rules;
what has it gotten me?
A long run of bad luck, that’s what—
a slap in the face every time I walk out the door.
If I’d have given in and talked like this,
I would have betrayed your dear children.
Still, when I tried to figure it out,
all I got was a splitting headache . . .
Until I entered the sanctuary of God.
Then I saw the whole picture:
The slippery road you’ve put them on,
with a final crash in a ditch of delusions.
In the blink of an eye, disaster!
A blind curve in the dark, and—nightmare!
We wake up and rub our eyes….Nothing.
There’s nothing to them. And there never was.
When I was beleaguered and bitter,
totally consumed by envy,
I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox
in your very presence.
I’m still in your presence,
but you’ve taken my hand.
You wisely and tenderly lead me,
and then you bless me.
You’re all I want in heaven!
You’re all I want on earth!
When my skin sags and my bones get brittle,
God is rock-firm and faithful.
Look! Those who left you are falling apart!
Deserters, they’ll never be heard from again.
But I’m in the very presence of God—
oh, how refreshing it is!
I’ve made Lord God my home.
God, I’m telling the world what you do! (Psalm 73, The Message)