Then I Understood

We are living in a season of uncertainty. Our previous routines now require careful evaluation and creative solutions, leaving many of us exhausted.

This is not new to the human experience. Scripture gives us multiple examples of individuals who have navigated life’s big challenges. Psalm 73 is an honest snapshot of one person who was able to stop his thoughts from spiraling downward and to find hope—the psalmist Asaph.

Asaph begins by stating what he knows to be true about God. “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart” (Ps. 73:1).

Yes, God is good. God will always be good. Yet Asaph’s knowledge about God did not prevent an honest struggle within his heart and mind. From my experience, this is a normal tension. An honest struggle is healthy when we, like Asaph, can acknowledge and express our feelings.

Asaph confesses the turmoil in his soul with this opening statement: “But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Ps. 73:2,3).

Asaph’s honest confession continues (see Psalm 73:4–15) and concludes with this statement: “When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply” (73:16).

Can you relate? Is anything troubling you deeply during these uncertain times? There is good news. Just as Asaph’s journey—as recorded in this psalm—was not over, neither is ours.

Jesus’ invitation is from the heart of a good God, who welcomes us to draw near: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28–29).

I don’t know if Asaph heard this invitation in his own spirit, but he did find a fresh perspective and rest for his soul when he entered the sanctuary of God. The tone of this psalm pivots when he declares: “then I understood” (see Psalm 73:17).

Take some time to savor the remaining portion of Psalm 73. We can smile at Asaph’s ruthless honesty when he admits being a “brute beast.” And we breathe a sigh of relief as Asaph finally finds peace for his troubled soul.

The world will continue to be complicated and confusing, but we do have a safe place—a refuge—for our emotional and intellectual distress.

The psalmist’s conclusion resonates with my deeply felt need for soul rest.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. . . .  But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds (Ps. 73:26, 28).

May we all be able to declare, even amid uncertainty: “It is good to be near God.” And may we all have stories to tell of how He has refreshed our souls.

Jen Vogel

Jen is the national director for Alliance Women; she serves in a variety of ministry capacities, including on the President’s Cabinet for The Alliance. She enjoys reading, travel, and completing the New York Times crossword puzzle daily. Jen and her husband, Doug, attend Dover Avenue Alliance Church in Orange City, Iowa.