There are some things we will never understand, outside of the presence of God, and in particular the House of God.
A man named Asaph once complained bitterly about how unfair life seemed. In particular, he was bemoaning the seemingly good fortune of the wicked – the very ones who were troubling him. It appeared that all of their malice against him went unpunished. Not only were the wicked getting away with their wickedness, but it seemed that they were even prospering, despite the evils they had committed.
Where was God in this, Asaph wondered? How could the God Who claimed to love him allow such a thing to happen? Did his suffering not matter? When would he see vindication for the wrongs that had been done to him? Was all his faith and all his obedience in vain?
Asaph had begun to taste bitterness, a slippery slope indeed. In truth, it is a path all too easy for the suffering and disappointed to take. But it is a dangerous path, because bitterness blinds us to God’s grace, causes us to forget the comfort of God’s nearness, neglects the transformative power of God’s Word, and blocks us from receiving the strength of our faith community.
Thankfully, Asaph knew this, and so when bitterness came knocking on the door of his soul, he knew what to do. He ran to the house of God.
In Psalm 73 (read it for yourself…you might find great comfort in it), Asaph writes:
“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 understood their end.” (vv. 16-17)
Once Asaph entered the Father’s house, he regained perspective. He could see clearly again. In the context of a worshiping community, his suffering lost its sting, and God’s patient grace regained its rule in his heart.
I know it’s becoming the popular thing to watch church from the comfort of our beds or couches, on a screen. But the Bible urges us not to neglect gathering together with other believers, because there is a power in the context of faith community that cannot be gained from anywhere else.
So the challenge for today is really two-fold:
- Understand the gift of community within the Father’s House, and get yourself there! If you’ve missed church this morning, determine to get there tonight, or reach out and make plans to get together with at least one other believer today, so that God can bless you, and relieve your suffering by renewing your perspective.
- Learn to keep showing up, in worship. God is big enough and gracious enough to receive our complaints, but when we determine to voice our confusion and our complaints in His sanctuary, in the context of a faith community – surrounded by others who are suffering and asking many of the same questions – He blesses us with peace and understanding.
May you do as my friend from yesterday’s challenge did in response to his suffering. May you run to the House of God! And there, may you find that God is still as good as He has always been.