“But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold” Ps 73:2
In our efforts to follow Christ, we can become discouraged by the lack of concern with the things of God in our culture. It’s simplistic to believe that everyone else has an easy life, free from worry or concerns. It may be tempting to abandon the pursuit of God for a more care-free life, but the ultimate test comes at the end. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”. (Rom. 12:21)
I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to men; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace. . . They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge? This is what the wicked are like—always carefree, they increase in wealth.
Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning. . . When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. . . As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies. . .
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel and afterward you will take me into glory. . . Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.
I watched a group of teenagers standing at the bus stop on the coldest day of the winter. They looked good: finely tuned bodies, smooth skin, long, lustrous hair, fashionable shoes. But it was all wrong for the weather. They were not prepared for the cold, rather, they were on display like mannequins in a store window. “They are the immortals,” I said to my husband as we drove by. “They think they’ll live forever.”
“The immortals” is a code name we’ve adopted to stand for the young, beautiful people of the world who live a carefree life, oblivious to time and aging. I envy them. I envy myself at that age. Yet, given the opportunity, I wouldn’t return to my youth. It was filled with angst and fear. “What am I going to do with my life? Will I ever find true love? Will I ever get a job? Will I make enough money to live on my own? Can I buy a house? Am I attractive? Am I popular? What are people saying about me?” It was exhausting. I wonder how many people realized all that was going on under the surface of my carefree façade?
A pastor commented on the sermon of young seminary student: “He was full of passion and enthusiasm, but he lacks an understanding of the needs of the people he is addressing.” It’s easy to assume that because someone smiles and seems “together” that they have no needs. Everyone has a story; we all know worry, disappointment and regret, regardless of our age. The Psalmist fretted over the “wicked” until he entered the “sanctuary of the Lord”, taking his eyes off his problems and focusing on God, the one who guides us safely through the maze of our lives, to the place where we will all be “immortals.”
Lord, it is easy to envy those around us and assume they have it easier than we do. When we focus on what we do not have, we lose sight of your blessings. We know that our true treasure lies in knowing and trusting you to keep us safe and lead us home to eternal life. Amen