Asaph the psalmwriter is having a very bad day as he begins writing Psalm 73.
As he looks around him, he sees a whole lot of unbelieving people who don’t have a God-bone in their bodies (which is discouragement #1) who seem to be living life far more easily and richly than he is (discouragement #2). And Asaph asks himself, “What good is my faith in God if this is where I end up?”
Thankfully, Asaph doesn’t remain in this dark place. In verse 15-16 he starts to think it through.
“If I had said, ‘I will speak this way’ I would have betrayed your children. When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me.”
Asaph is now talking in prayer to God about what he’s feeling. And he says in so many words, “God, when I think this way, I’m disowning everything that my life has stood for up till now. I’m flinging mud in the faces of all my church family. I’m spitting on the cross.”
Asaph needs God to help him work through this. But then at last, the breakthrough. Verse 17.
“It was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.”
What was it that at last cleared the cobwebs away for Asaph? He walked into God’s sanctuary. He sought fellowship with his church family. And by doing that, his vision cleared, he begins to see the truth of his life through the eyes of God, and the fog of his despair begins to break apart.
The truths that Asaph learns which remove his depression he’ll share with us in the remainder of the psalm. But before we consider those truths, let Asaph teach you another lesson today.
Asaph would say to us: no matter what you’re going through, remain in fellowship. Trying to figure everything out was oppressive to Asaph till he entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood…”
The temptation we face when things start to fall apart and God seems to have withdrawn from us, is to stick it to him by withdrawing from him. But in doing that, the only one we end up sticking it to is ourselves. We’re like the man who slams his thumb with the hammer, then in anger kicks the wall and fractures his toe.
One of the signs that you’re beginning to mature as a believer is that fellowship for you becomes no longer optional. You know that no matter what, you must stay connected to God, and you’ve learned that his Church is one of the places God has chosen where that connection has the greatest chance of happening.
If you’re out on your own right now, alone and cut off, because you feel that God has abandoned you, give up the sulk, and return to his people. Give the Lord a chance – through a song, or the sermon or a prayer or the hug of a friend – to whisper hope back into your heart. Don’t despair; He’s waiting for you there.