January 4, 2022
An Attitude of Gratitude
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"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 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." Psalm 73:26-28 (NIV)
I glanced at the clock - 12:05 a.m. My eyes begged to close, but my brain refused to switch off.
Unable to dream, I walked out to my back deck and stared into the night. The sky glistened with stars and the moon, breathtaking. Having spent previous evenings scrolling through social media to catch up on national news or discussing with friends the events that had recently transpired in their lives, I was restless ... and somewhat resentful.
Alone on the deck, I called out into the vast night sky, "Why, Lord? Why does it seem that nothing good is happening around me? Why are Your children experiencing such suffering while those who deny You appear to prosper? Why does it feel like I am on the wrong team?"
In Psalm 73, we meet Asaph, a worship leader who was wrestling with his faith during the time of King David. Scripture doesn’t describe the exact situation, but it is clear that Asaph was quite exasperated.
Though he was the leader of the temple choir, pursued holiness, denied himself and lived a life of righteousness, Asaph still suffered. Looking out across the land, he saw the "prosperity of the wicked" (Psalm 73:3), who, while defying God, lived seemingly effortless lives, healthier and wealthier than those who worshipped Him.
Needless to say, Asaph became frustrated, believing that his faithfulness, obedience and steadfastness to the Lord were all in vain. What was the point in worshipping God when it appeared he would be just as well off, if not better, without Him?
Nevertheless, the second half of Psalm 73 reveals a distinct change of attitude when, instead of looking around and comparing his circumstances to those of others, Asaph looked upward to his Creator. Then his perspective shifted from self-pity to gratitude. As he worshipped in the temple, God reminded Asaph of His covenant promises for His children.
Despite the conditions surrounding him, as Asaph drew nearer to the Lord, he found comfort and hope in the Everlasting One.
We read in Psalm 73:26-28 that being in the presence of God renews our faith and restores our souls: "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 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."
When I question the Lord’s fairness, I find myself running away from Him instead of to Him. I turn on the TV in lieu of opening my Bible. Instead of praying, I chat with friends, arrogantly assuming I will eventually "figure God out" by myself. Sadly, we all suffer from spiritual amnesia from time to time, which is why we must return to the source of Truth and abide in Christ for renewal of our wanting hearts and wayward thoughts.
God has given us a gift exceedingly better than anything this world can ever offer: eternal life through faith in Christ. But Jesus never promised His followers an easy or comfortable earthly sojourn. In fact, quite the contrary; still, our fleshly selves grow cynical and bitter when we compare our lives to others'.
Instead of allowing comparison to thwart trust in God’s sovereign plan for our lives, let's cling to the hope we have in His promises. Let’s set our sights on our heavenly Father, offering continual praise for His past, present and future faithfulness, for He "keep[s] his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments" (Deuteronomy 7:9, NIV).
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your many blessings. May we always look to You when we find our faith wavering. Guide us back to You when we stray, and remind us that You are infinitely better than anything this world offers. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Proverbs 4:18-19, “The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like total darkness. They have no idea what they are stumbling over." (NLT)
One way to avoid falling into the comparison trap is to list the ways God provides and cares for His children. What are some blessings God has bestowed on your life?
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© 2022 by Laura Bailey. All rights reserved.