September 7, 2021
Jo Alison Lobertini
Tennessee Valley District
Faithful living in a corrupt and unfair world
A psalm of Asaph.
Psalm 73:1-20 (Common English Bible)
73 Truly God is good to Israel,
to those who are have a pure heart.
2 But me? My feet had almost stumbled;
my steps had nearly slipped
3 because I envied the arrogant;
I observed how the wicked are well off:
4 They suffer no pain;
their bodies are fit and strong.
5 They are never in trouble;
they aren’t weighed down like other people.
6 That’s why they wear arrogance like a necklace,
why violence covers them like clothes.
7 Their eyes bulge out from eating so well;
their hearts overflow with delusions.
8 They scoff and talk so cruel;
from their privileged positions
they plan oppression.
9 Their mouths dare to speak against heaven!
Their tongues roam the earth!
10 That’s why people keep going back to them,
keep approving what they say.[a]
11 And what they say is this: “How could God possibly know!
Does the Most High know anything at all!”
12 Look at these wicked ones,
always relaxed, piling up the wealth!
13 Meanwhile, I’ve kept my heart pure for no good reason;
I’ve washed my hands to stay innocent for nothing.
14 I’m weighed down all day long.
I’m punished every morning.
15 If I said, “I will talk about all this,”
I would have been unfaithful to your children.
16 But when I tried to understand these things,
it just seemed like hard work
17 until I entered God’s sanctuary
and understood what would happen to the wicked.
18 You will definitely put them on a slippery path;
you will make them fall into ruin!
19 How quickly they are devastated,
utterly destroyed by terrors!
20 As quickly as a dream departs from someone waking up, my Lord,
when you are stirred up, you make them disappear.[b]
DevotionOh, how I wish the world was fair. I also wish the world was good. We all probably do. We cheer when a bad guy gets his comeuppance in a movie or on a television show. We cheer when the good guy clears his name and everyone knows he is innocent in the same movie or television show. Heartened, we somehow feel that justice has been served. If only that happened in real life, we think. Today’s verse reminds us that the desire to see the good prosper and the bad suffer is not a new concept. Especially for people of God, we struggle seeing bad things happen to good people and seeing corrupt people prosper, just as the Psalmist did.
Just like the Psalmist, we lament the good we have done, the times we did not choose the easy path, when we see others do harm, lie, cheat, steal, and then seemingly be rewarded and even admired. Why should we stay faithful, fight the good fight, struggle to obey our God in a world that seems to be stacked against us? We do so because the Psalmist tells us, “But when I tried to understand these things, it just seemed like hard work until I entered God’s sanctuary and understood what would happen to the wicked” (v. 16-17). We are looking at the desire for fairness and goodness through our short time frame here on Earth. God looks at fairness and goodness through His eternal and everlasting time frame.
As one of the earliest hymns I learned says, “Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” We do not control the fairness and goodness that is portioned out and made available. We also cannot stop fighting the good fight, stop being faithful, and stop struggling to obey. We can help and support each other, knowing that God will deal with all things in His time, not ours.
PrayerDear heavenly Father, thank you for giving us the opportunity to trust and obey you each and every day. Please give us the strength and courage to be faithful to you in a world that seems out of control. Help us to remember that you are eternal and everlasting. Amen.
Jo Lobertini is a native east Tennessean and a member of Middlebrook Pike UMC. She attended the University of Tennessee, and is a member of the UT Wesley Foundation board. She has two adult children, 3 grandchildren, and a wonderful husband, Paul ...