Through my years of pastoring 5 churches, I have observed that life is not always fair in its treatment of people. Does life favor certain people? Do certain people have a special favor in life and the ball always bounces in their court? I have observed this in life, and I have observed this in death. In life, it is not always the righteous person who wins and in death, it is not only the bad person who dies and leaves a fortune while the righteous person struggles.

This is the formula for cynicism. It tends to weaken or even pollute my faith. I must admit that I have struggled with this, especially in my younger years. There was the mother I conducted a funeral for, She was thirty-five and had two sons and a husband. Why did she die of an incurable disease while a neighbor who did not honor God is left to live a life of dissipation?

I realize I am bringing up a subject that has no answers and I realize for someone reading this it will open an old wound, but this issue goes all the way back in time. Psalm 73 comes to mind. It was written by Asaph, who was the director of music during the reign of David. Listen to him as he spills his thoughts, “But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling; for I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. There was no pain in their death and their body is fat. They are not in trouble as other men, nor are they plagued like others. They wear their pride as a necklace and the garment of violence covers them. Their eyes bulge with fatness, and the imaginations of their heart run wild. They mock and wickedly speak of oppression, and they speak from on high. They have set themselves against the heavens, and their tongue parades through all the earth.”

I observe three things that have put Asaph on the slippery slope. First, his observation of life and what is happening is from the wrong perspective. He is drawing his opinions from what he sees going on around him. The Bible does give us instructions for our ethics and our moral behavior. These are standards that anchor us. But Asaph is so overwhelmed with what he sees that he reverses what he knows. He observes the righteous as being affected and the wicked as flourishing. What he knows and what he sees has made a cynic of him.

I call this “keyhole theology”. It looks at life from a very narrow point of view. It is so important to stand on what I KNOW God says and not base my mindset on what I SEE.

I observe also that Asaph is focusing on the wrong objective. He is viewing material gain and physical pleasure as the main objective in life.

It is so easy to fall into the trap of worshipping creation and forgetting all about the creator. I’m fearful this is one of the traps that our region is falling into. People move here, not to find God, but to enjoy what God has made. They have reversed their focus. While I enjoy what God has made, I must keep my focus on who God is and His plan for my life. I refer to the worldly proverb that is so popular, “he who dies with the most toys wins”. If I live strictly for what I see and what I can accumulate, it provides a perfect setting for envy and bitterness to begin to grow in the garden of my life.

Is it not also true that Asaph compromises his faith to satisfy his desires? After all, what good is God when all I want can be bought or found? Our life will naturally reproduce what we see and hear and where our focus is. It is what I see that produces envy and jealousy, whether that is in position or material things. I want it, I get it and it replaces what I had. I must ask myself, “has it robbed me of my values”?

Listen to the conclusion of Asaph; “…how does God know? And is there knowledge of the ‘Most High’? 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…when I pondered to understand this I was troubled in my sight…’.

Asaph is confused because of what he thinks is true versus what he is observing in the world around him. Isn’t that true for all of us. I am troubled by what I am going through. I am troubled by the news I read and hear. I am troubled as I watch people around me. When I examine my faith in the faithfulness of God, I feel a conflict. I find myself in the same place as Asaph. Doubts begin to trouble me about the faithfulness of God.

Asaph found relief for his troubled soul, just as I have. Listen to him; “…I was troubled in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God. Then I perceived their end. Surely Thou dost set them in slippery places; Thou dost cast them down to destruction. How they are destroyed in a moment! They have been utterly swept away with sudden terrors. Like a dream when one awakes, oh Lord, when aroused, Thou wilt despise their form”. Wow!

As Asaph comes to a place of self-realization, he says of himself, “when my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, then. I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before Thee”.

In the 42 years that I have lived in this region, I have hiked. I have hiked every trail in Glacier, the North Fork, and in the South Fork that could be done in one day. Since I spent two summers on fire lookout towers, I have hiked to every lookout tower I could. I have hiked to the highest mountains in the North Fork.

Why do I tell you this? It is because while I did enjoy the beauty, the peace the solitude, as I stood there with my wife and absorbed the beauty, I saw and felt more. I felt more than what I could see. I saw God. I have had my own private devotions high on the mountain. While there, I went into the sanctuary, and there I found that life was not all that could be bought or attained through a position. God must be sought, or we will fall into the vortex of a black hole where all I see is self and what it can attain. All I can see is what others have and I do not have. I will have the same problem Asaph had before he went into the sanctuary. The sanctuary is more than a physical location, it is a state of mind. Where did Asaph find his Sanctuary? He says, “…I was troubled until I went into the Sanctuary…”. I have found my Sanctuary atop a mountain with a breathtaking view, where I Raised my Hands in worship to an awesome God

I urge you to find your sanctuary and find the invisible God.

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