Asaph wrote in Psalm 73: “For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked… They are not in trouble as other men, nor are they plagued like mankind… Behold, these are the wicked; and always at ease, they have increased in wealth. 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.” (Psalm 73: 3, 5, 12-14).
Asaph looked at the trials in his life and felt that maybe he obeyed God for nothing. He saw the temporary happiness of the wicked and felt that sting of jealousy.
And I contrast Asaph’s words with the times I’ve heard that following Jesus makes life easier. Because sometimes things are harder—not easier—for the obedient.
Which brings me back to this, I don’t obey God simply to avoid consequences. I obey God because I love Him. My goal is to be hidden in Christ here on earth, to die to myself—not physically, but to my selfish priorities and thoughts. Die to Katie and live to God. Die to getting what I want here and live to serve others.
And so, obedience to Christ is not so much about what happens here and now, but about what happens in those realms I can’t see. It’s about remembering heaven, that city whose builder and maker is God. It’s about being like the saints mentioned in Hebrews 11, who were busy looking at heaven while they lived here on earth. And then, doing all I do here on earth with joy. Not joy because I’m getting what I want. Not joy because life is perfect. But joy because I want to please God and enjoy serving Him.
In other words, follow God and honor Him because you love Him, not because you simply want to avoid hard times. And, it will be better for those who follow God.
Asaph in Psalm 73 (the one I quoted above) continues his thoughts about the wicked by saying: “When I pondered to understand, it was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction… For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You” (Psalm 73: 16- 18, 27).
And concerning himself, Asaph says: “Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory” (Psalm 73:23-24).
That is also our hope: That whether or not this life is hard, God will never forsake us or let go of our right hand. And very soon we will be received into eternal glory.