Joy in God Alone
Today’s reading: Psalm 73-74; Romans 5
25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25-26
1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, Romans 5:1-3a
In the famous words of Dr. John Piper, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
That sounds great, but, as Psalm 73 opens, the writer is not satisfied at all. He lays out a common complaint. “Why do the unrighteous prosper while good people suffer?” or “What is the point of walking in integrity if you are not immediately rewarded for it?” Keep reading. The Psalm gives us an answer to that question. In fact, it gives us two answers.
The first, and most obvious, answer is “…I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.” (vs.17b) Prosperous but wicked people will not always be in their apparently favored status. They will come to an appropriate end described by words like: ruin, destruction, and terrors. (vs. 18-19) One might even begin to feel compassion for the lost by contemplating their precarious state and the punishment awaiting them. In light of this, the Psalmist’s complaint turns into a confession of ignorance and brutishness toward God (vs. 21-22).
Secondly, the Psalmist reflects on the fact that he has the Lord with Him. He has guidance and he anticipates being received into glory (vs. 23, 24). God is all he desires, all he needs. He has everything in Him. Why complain and compare?
Paul in Romans expands this thought describing the relationship which the justified sinner has with God and with his present life in this world. That new relationship is one of peace, grace, joy, and hope all through the Lord Jesus Christ. Our joy is in the hope of the glory of God. We have present joy because of future fulfillment which has been secured as a free gift through the offering of Christ for us who believe. Even our present sufferings are a cause for joy, because they serve to build our endurance, character, and hope. This is not a result of mere human enlightenment but is brought about by the love of God “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (vs. 5).
Envy of the wicked and complaints about our lot in life will probably crop up in our hearts from time to time, but they should not take root and flourish. Let joy in the hope of coming glory and satisfaction in God alone be your way of life.