Holding On To The Hand of God
Then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to honor and glory.
The psalmist Asaph was so angry he couldn’t see straight! He felt that he had been given a bum deal: Evil people were flourishing, but he had followed God and was struggling. It wasn’t fair! He lashed out at God, and he sulked in self-pity. He doesn’t tell us exactly what he said to God, but we can be sure it wasn’t pretty because he described himself as “a beast.”
In one of the most poignant and beautiful passages in the Bible, we find that when Asaph was at his worst, God was at His best. Asaph ranted and raved at God, but God continued to be loving, patient, and kind toward him. In fact, God kept holding his hand like a loving mother firmly and patiently holds the hand of a toddler in a tantrum.
God gave Asaph the assurance that He would lead him down the right path, and at the end of that season or the end of life itself, God would gladly receive him in love.
When we are at our worst, we often image that God is fiercely resentful or that He turns His back on us in disgust. We may have experienced those responses from our parents, siblings, spouses, or other people, but God’s response is quite different. Even when we are beasts, He stays near, patiently loving us, reassuring us, and holding our hands. What a statement of His grace!
I pray God I may be given the wisdom and the providence to do my duty in the true spirit of this great people.
Trusting God when life goes sour is perhaps one of the most difficult parts of our faith journey. We often have been given the impression that if you live right, pray right that your life will filled with every good thing. So when it isn’t, like Asaph, and you look around at those who seem to prosper while you are struggling, something seems wrong. However, if you feel that way you’re in good company. When you read the stories of those in the Bible, you discover that most of them had their moments of questions and despair. Consider Elijah when he was in the cave, hiding in fear from Jezebel. He told God that he was the only one left serving Him and he might as well give up and die. The despair and depression was evident. Let’s not forget that he had just experienced an incredible answer to prayer as God sent fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice and then as Elijah prayed, God caused it to rain. James tells us the the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much and he uses Elijah as an example. The response by God to Elijah is such a great lesson of hope for us. God causes a strong wind to blow and an earthquake to happen and a fire to burn. After all that the Bible says that a gentle blowing came and from that came the voice of God. You see when we’re struggling God doesn’t try to shake us or move us. He speaks gently to us in our fragile state of being. Even when we give up on ourselves, God doesn’t. Even when we think all is lost and we’re through, God still has plans for us. After all Elijah said and felt, God comes to him in the dark moment of his life and gives him a new assignment.
Over and over we read this same story as God dealt with struggling people in the Bible. Think about Peter after his colossal failure. After making the boast that he would never abandon Jesus, he denied him three times. When Jesus met him on the seashore, Peter didn’t receive a scolding. Instead Jesus, after resurrection sends a message to him specifically. Listen to the message of the angel at the tomb:
“But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there, just as He told you.’”
The message included specifically Peter who no doubt felt at that moment he was no longer a disciple. Thank God that He gives grace and mercy and inclusion to struggling people. As Asaph poured out his accusations that God allowed the wicked to prosper while at the same time He allowed His people to suffer, God listened patiently knowing that as Asaph poured out his bitterness and hurt, he was also opening up to healing and trust. That’s what we read in the rest of the psalm.
In the book of Job we read of a man who suffered greatly. During that suffering, Job at times questioned the reason for his suffering. His friends were sure that Job brought it on himself through some sin. Job makes a request to contend his case before the Almighty, sure that if he could do so, somehow it would all make sense. I think the difficulty in suffering is when we try to figure out why it is that we suffer. There are many of the people in the Bible who tried to figure out the whys of suffering. In Job’s case, we are given the action behind the scene. We read that the devil wanted God to let him test Job. That may not always be the case, but God does use every struggle to bring about something better for us. That’s what Asaph finally concluded. We may never know in this life every reason for our struggles but one thing is for sure: God can and will take everything in our lives and turn them into blessings. Sometimes we have to look hard, to wait patiently, and to trust what we don’t see. What turns the tide for us is when we discover God’s rich mercy and extravagant grace toward us not willing that any should perish.
If life feels unfair right now, hold on to your trust in the One who will at some point rule with justice. Rest in His love for you and cling to His hand. He has a reputation for bringing His children through storms and trials.