One of these days, in eternity future, I’m looking forward to meeting Asaph. Why Asaph, you ask?
And, who in the world was Asaph? Legitimate questions. If we were having this conversation in person, I’d start by answering the second question first.
Well, you know Psalm 73, right? Have you read it?
If you’re having one of those days where you fume at the injustices in the world around you, read Psalm 73.
Asaph is credited with writing this Psalm as well as a few others. Seems like he had a bone to pick with injustice. He was a Levite. You could call him one of the chief temple Music Directors.
Clearly he used his position to express his beef with the world as well as shining truths about God.
Have you had days like this? You’re infuriated at the politicians. Shedding tears over babies being ripped apart in their mother’s wombs. Every. Single. Day.
Some of you, like me, would desperately love to give those babies loving arms and a home, however imperfect. Due to chronic illness, we know the painful reality of secondary infertility.
I have a daughter — I’m very, very grateful. But that same daughter has asked me for a sibling almost since she could talk. She feels the pain of secondary infertility, too.
The cost of adoption and the presence of chronic illness, well… Then compare the cost of abortion to the cost of adoption — talk about severe injustice!
Or even closer to home for caregivers — do you get spitting mad because navigating the medical system to get the help you or your chronically-ill loved one needs is SO crazy hard?
Even worse, you find out you have no coverage for medically-necessary procedures. It’s going to cost you big bucks out of pocket.
Chronic illness is like a financial black hole.
Cancer and chronic illness — two of the biggest legal money-making rackets currently in operation, I’m convinced. Long gone are the days when doctors accepted payments in chickens or eggs (Yes, those were acceptable forms of payment just a hundred years ago.)
Alternative or integrative medicine isn’t immune to industry greed.
Certainly, no one’s winning any affordability prizes in these categories, either. I have family and friends who have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into trying to get healthy, trying to find which method will work for them.
When we’re actually living in these desperate straits, Asaph’s lament makes total sense to us.
“Truly God is good to Israel, to the pure in heart. But as for me, my feet almost stumbled; my steps had almost slipped.
+For I was envious at the boastful; I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pains in their death; their bodies are fat.
They are not in trouble as other people, nor are they plagued like others…
they have more than a heart could wish.”
Psalm 73: 1-7
I recently saw a brief tid-bit of a Dr. Phil show.
The mother-daughter duo was there for “help”. The flawlessly made-up daughter was a hot mess of entitlement, mad at her mom because she was getting her spending money cut down to 1k a month.
Upset because her mom had chosen a Mercedes (she wanted a more expensive car) to give her, you could hear the entire audience gasping at this teen’s audacious words.
First world problems, right?
That’s where the reality of heart-envy sets in.
It’s tempting to say, Girl, look here, I’ll be happy to take that 1k spending money off of your hands. It would pay some extra bills this month.
But that misses the point of this Divine reminder altogether.
“Truly, God IS good to Israel.”
We can’t base our understanding of God’s goodness on the evil we see in the world around us — injustice, violence, and greed.He clearly states that He is good and does good. Sometimes our eyes and hearts are so focused on the evil that we fail to see His goodness.
When we’re experiencing pain, financial loss, or the slow, painful demise of a loved one, we just want relief. We want answers.
Asaph expressed this struggle: “Thus my heart was embittered, and I was pierced in my feelings. I was a brute and did not understand.”
The beauty is that God does not leave us alone. He is good to Israel (those who are true Israel by faith in Christ alone.)
He keeps His covenant promises.
He is the SAME, yesterday, today, and forever.
All the Scripture Asaph knew to help him understand and know God were the Books of the Law. Imagine that when you read the beautiful words that Asaph pens next!
“Nevertheless, I am continually with You;
You have held me by my right hand.
You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is NOTHING on earth I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fails, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Ps. 73:23-26)
See Asaph return to trust, rest, and peace, dear caregiver? Dear sufferer of chronic illness? Dear friend or family of someone in dire physical need? You and I are wealthy beyond compare, if we are known and loved by the covenant-keeping God.
Read the final book of the Bible — the one Asaph had NEVER laid eyes one. His next words tell us about a God who will hand out justice.
He sounds hauntingly like the book of Revelation, written hundreds of years later.
“But those who are far from You will perish; You destroy everyone who is unfaithful to You.” Ps. 73:27
Once again, Asaph quiets his soul and deals a blow to his own discontent. How? What’s the takeaway for me?
“But it is good for me to DRAW NEAR to God;
I have taken refuge in the Lord God, that I may declare all Your works.” Ps. 73:28
I’m so very, very thankful to say — through care-giving for two family members with cancer, chronic illness, multiple surgeries, and recently, stroke — I’ve found this refuge in God. Every. Single. Time.
Has it hurt like crazy still? Like someone keeps shredding my very heart, yes.
When I bow my bleeding heart and seek His face, His WORD speaks to me.
In the pain, loneliness, and suffering that only He can see and understand, His Words light my path with a light so tangible I can almost see it. Real hope. Real peace, in spite of multiple anxieties. Real comfort. That’s why I wanted to share this with you today.
Real struggles, real answers — from my brother Asaph who’s enjoying his final refuge at this very moment.