Psalm 73 expresses what I am sure are the sentiments of every Christian. This psalm was written by Asaph who makes an affirmative statement of the goodness of God in verse one, but very quickly confesses that he sees a great disparity between the physical, financial, and material character of God’s people and the world.
Who among us has not felt some kind of inequity when thinking about how well off are many unbelievers while we as Christians often face the hardships of life? There are some who see this disparity and they try to compensate for it with a theology that says God intends for all His people to live in financial prosperity and never suffer the physical ailments that are common to man. In other words, God has provided something more in His atonement than their salvation from sin and the effects of the curse. They are determined that all the benefits of the atonement should be immediately realized. They postulate the reason we do not receive them is because of lack of faith in God’s intention.
I do not have the time or space to argue the intricacies of the atonement, but I will say this psalm certainly rejects the idea Christians should be free from suffering because of it. The psalmist may very well lament the difficulties of life, but he overlooks them in favor of the rich spiritual blessings we possess in Christ. God promised to rid us of all inequities in another time while those who enjoy the pleasures of the world now will lose out forever in the world to come.
The feeling of being shortchanged in the present life is at times common to us all. I feel it at times as I travel. I love to travel but I do not have the resources to do it often nor to travel in luxury. I wait to board an airplane with the cattle call with great feelings of inferiority as I enviously pass through first class and its soft seats looking at those who board first. On my last trip, I took my place in the last row next to the restrooms where I sat for 5 ½ hours in a seat that would not recline.
I took the flight magazine out of the seat pocket and began reading an article about how increasingly common it is for Americans to have second homes in places like the Hawaiian Islands. This particular article told of a family that had a vacation home in a community with 180 degree views of the ocean. They were in a planned housing development where the lots start at five to ten million dollars. The article stated it like this, “Why don’t you own at least two of these?”
I am the guy sitting in coach with my knees under my chin, so why let me read something that makes me feel like a total loser? I refinanced my house four times just to keep up. So, I put the magazine away and took out my Bible. I read Psalm 73 and relived the agony of the psalmist. But then I came to the last part. By far the majority of the extremely wealthy know nothing of life and peace with God. The Psalmist said these people are far from God and they will perish. Jesus said, “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” I decided a $10 million lot in Hawaii is nowhere near worth what I have in Christ. So, I sat in coach and counted my blessings. After all, I could have spent my vacation in Bakersfield.
Pastor V. Mark Smith