Feeling isolated yet? If you’re an introvert who normally racks up a fair amount of on-your-own time, maybe you’re scratching your head saying, “What’s that?” But maybe, if you’re more used to going a million miles an hour and having a million things on the go, cabin fever’s starting to set in and you’re starting to go a bit stir crazy. Could be, if you’re wired for more of a wait and see approach to life, you’re still chillin’. But, if you’re not wired that way, this lack of feeling like you’re in control might have your wiring starting to fray a bit.
But regardless of how we’re normally inclined to operate, there’s a lot that just isn’t normal about how day to day life is happening right now. And I’m thinking, the longer we’re sheltered in place trying to do normal when all is not normal, it’s gonna start getting to most of us in some way. The more we’re sequestered, the more we’re likely to feel secluded.
So something I read in Psalm 73 was a helpful perspective setter . . . or re-setter, as the case may be.
For the psalmist it wasn’t about dealing with a pandemic and all the “Why this? Why now? Why me?” questions that might come along with it. For the songwriter it was about, “Why the wicked? And why do they seem to prosper?”
He was so bent out of shape over trying to figure out the apparent injustice in his world that his feet “had almost stumbled” and his “steps had nearly slipped” as he became “envious of the arrogant” and fixated on the “the prosperity of the wicked” (73:12).
Same as us, but different. Get too locked into 24-hour news sources and it’s hard for the panic to not set in or, depending on which source you’re watching, for the callousness of cynicism to not start forming. Spend too much time worrying about tomorrow’s “what if” scenarios, and it’s going to start to drastically change how we determine to live our lives today. Faith giving way to fear. Trust giving way to turmoil.
So, how do we regain proper perspective? How do we get a grip again on a heavenly view of earthly happenings?
But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.
(Psalm 73:16-17 ESV)
We can read about COVID-19, hear about COVID-19, and noodle on COVID-19 until the cows come home, but, honestly, we’re never going to fully understand COVID-19. Talk about your “wearisome task.” But COVID-19, like everything else under God’s sovereign hand, falls into line when we enter into “the sanctuary of God.” When we come back to where the glory dwells. When we reconnect with God through His word. When we realize, no matter how secluded we might feel, we need not be far from God.
The songwriter gets that he was going a bit crazy with his obsession with the prospering of the wicked. His soul was embittered, he says. He was becoming “brutish” and “arrogant” and even “like a beast” toward God Himself. But then, by God’s grace, he realized afresh:
Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You hold my right hand.
(Psalm 73:23 ESV)
Praise God for moments of clarity. For His Spirit restoring us to our senses. Despite all that’s going on around me, says the songwriter, regardless of everything I just don’t get . . . no matter how wacked out I feel like I’m becoming, I am with you, God! Continually, always, without interruption! You hold my right hand. You can be my 24 hour news network. Your Word, alleviating my worry. Your presence, providing my peace.
And then, this bottom-line, at-the-end-of-the-day, when-all-is-said-and-done declaration by the songwriter:
But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.
(Psalm 73:28 ESV)
A bottom-line statement by the songwriter after twenty-seven verses of working through his current situation. My bottom-line as well.
No matter how sheltered in place I might be, it is good to be near God. No matter how rocked my world might seem, He remains my refuge.
True statement for every believer. For every child of God who can enter the sanctuary, approach the Father, abide with Son, all because they are filled with the Spirit.
Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.
(Psalm 139:7-10 ESV)
Never alone. It is good to be near God. Amen?
By His grace. For His glory.