At the time, I felt so confident, but now I feel like I missed my chance. Why on earth did I do that? That was so dumb…What am I going to do now? Recently, I found my mind spiraling towards anxious thoughts and regret about a lost opportunity. Feeling discouraged, I told my husband, looking for him to encourage me but instead he just listened and then went on with whatever he was doing at the time. All I wanted was for him to affirm me and the decisions that I had made, to tell me that everything would work out, to speak truth and life to me. Unfortunately, not even pastor husbands can read your mind and give you exactly what you want, when you want it, without having to say it.
By this time, I had been dwelling on these thoughts for most of the day. After my husband unknowingly let me down, I immediately started down the road of bitterness towards him and continued down the path of regret and anxiousness because of my situation. Suddenly, I realized I knew where that path goes; I had been there before, far too many times, and I did not want to continue down it again. I realized that I could continue dwelling on my anxious thoughts, which seemed easier in the short run but I knew would end in my captivity. Or, I could take those thoughts captive and speak truth into them, even though I wasn’t sure if I believed it at the time.
Dwelling on Lies (Like Us?)
I relate to the psalmist, Asaph, and his struggle in Psalm 73. He knew the truth that “surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart,” a.k.a. him (Psalm 73:1). But this was not his experience. His experience was that he was close to stumbling and slipping as he watched and coveted the prosperity, health, and wealth of the wicked. Asaph concludes, “Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and washed my hands in innocence; for I have been stricken all day long and chastened every morning.” In other words: God, I’ve been pure in heart. I’ve been righteous. I deserve that goodness and prosperity, not these people who scorn Your Name. Certainly, I deserve better than this. If “God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart,” then where is my good?
Asaph knows the truth but finds himself entangled in lies. To be real, it makes sense for him to believe the lies. It really does look like the wicked have amazing lives. His life really does feel terrible, and the truth and promises of God really do seem hollow. His circumstances are real situations that call into question God’s goodness towards His people. For me, I really may have made a bad choice, and I really may have missed an opportunity. But as with Asaph, my present circumstances blinded me to my eternal and truer reality.
Dwelling with God
For eight verses, Asaph dwells on lies and half-truths, hashing over why the lie must actually be true. His struggle weighs him down but, finally, something shifts:
I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.Psalm 73:17
Asaph enters into the sanctuary of God and there in the presence of God, he is changed. There with the Lord, Asaph is able to rightly see the truth and experience deliverance. There, in the presence of God, Asaph is able to rightly see with an eternal perspective, realizing his short and momentary affliction was nothing compared to the eternal weight of glory promised him. There, in the sanctuary, He was able to rightly see and confess his own sin. Most importantly, he was able to rightly see and worship His God as his greatest good as he proclaims, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25). The presence of God changes his perspective and his new understanding of his circumstances changeshis heart and his desires. The presence of God brings freedom from the lies that once captivated him.
Lord, You are sovereign. You know what’s best for me, You are for my good and my mistakes are not too big for you. You can redeem my poor choices and use them for good. Your grace is sufficient to cover over my mistakes and to lead me. This world is passing, but You remain forever and will bring me into glory with You forever. You, Jesus, are my highest good, not the opportunity I may have missed.
What is it for you? Where do the promises of God just not ring true? What causes anxiousness in your heart? What lies lead you into habitual sin? We may not go to a literal physical sanctuary right now to be with God, but we can still meet with God. We can meet with Him in prayer, or we can hear His truth in His Word, or even through the expression of His Body in our church community. May we continually learn to recognize the lies we’re believing and bring them into the presence of the Lord, that He may change us and that His freeing truth may prevail in our hearts.
Dwelling with Truth
For Asaph, knowing truth didn’t just end with agreement with God, but with affection for God (Psalm 73:25-26, 28). Going into the presence of God didn’t only result in a knowledge of facts, but with knowledge and worship of a person. Jesus is not only the revealer of truth; he is the Truth. In Him, we are set free not only from lies, but from the greater captors of sin and death (John 14:6, 8:32). May we be a people who pursue and intimately know Truth, responding in worship, and proclaiming to our God along with the psalmist, “Earth has nothing I desire besides you.”