“When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.” (Psalm 73:21-24)
This was written by a guy named Asaph when he was in a dark place. He is beat down by life and feeling bitter towards God. As a result, he says that He is acting brutish and ignorant towards God. When people treat us poorly, we put distance between ourselves and them. Because this is how we act, we can think that this is how God acts. And so, when we are struggling with him, we can feel like God is distant.
But God is not like us. Even though Asaph was a mess, God had not put distance between them. He is “continually” with him, “holding” his hand, “guiding” him and He promises to bring Asaph home to “glory.” God doesn’t distance Himself when we are a mess. He is present with us in the mess. This is because God’s love for us doesn’t come from us and anything we do to make ourselves attractive to Him.
God’s love for us is His free choice that He has made in Christ. There is nothing we could do to earn God’s love and so there is nothing we can do to separate ourselves from God’s love. Nothing, “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).
God does want us to pursue godly character and so His assurance of love should never be used as a license to sin. But it should be a comfort when we do sin. We don’t need to clean ourselves up before coming to God. We can come to God in our mess and, through Christ, experience the cleansing power of the Gospel.
Question: Do you feel like God is close to you right now?
Challenge: Make confession of sin a daily habit in your life. Not to continually beat yourself up, but so that the assurance of Christ might be continually in your heart.
Prayer: God, help me to believe that there is more love in you than there is sin in me.
Jeff Boettcher, Chapel Leader -- Philadelphia Phillies