Ignorance is not Bliss

Bible Reading:
Psalms about Righteousness and Wickedness Psalm 1; 14; 15; 36; 37; 39

The psalmists were envious of rich, wicked men who appeared to live easy, carefree lives. The writer of Psalm 73 said that his envy almost caused him to lose his faith. It disturbed him to see ungodly men blessed with wealth, strength and power, while he himself was plagued with trials, though he tried to always do what was right. It made him wonder if his efforts to live a godly life were in vain. When he tried to resolve this conflict in his mind, it was oppressive to him, until he sat quietly and listened to God. Then, like the writer of Psalm 49 who coined the phrase "you can't take it with you," he understood that our real, eternal value rests in our position with God, not man.

I, too, have sometimes felt resentment when I've compared my life to that of "rich, successful" people who care nothing for God. I have sometimes wondered if trying to live God's way is worth all the effort. When our security and respect were stripped away from us, I wondered why God had failed to bless us when we had lived according to his word and served him faithfully in the church. In times of despair, I have questioned and doubted him. I have sulked in self-pity and accused God of being unfair, unjust, unloving, uncaring, distant and impersonal. Even when I ignorantly and falsely accused him, God still loved me. He patiently waited for me to take off my shades of disillusionment and see him as he really is.

Reflecting on those troubled days, I now realize that my grief and bitterness distorted my view of the truth. "When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant" (73:21-22), not unlike "a man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish" (49:20). Not only was I ignorant in my opinion of God, but my understanding of those I envied was also distorted. I failed to see that their wealth and success did not ease or eliminate the pain and suffering in their lives.

Now, looking back, I can trace God's hand through my past trials. I realize that, even when I couldn't see him through my tears, God was always with me, holding my hand and guiding me with his counsel (73:23-24). Though at times I felt forsaken, I now know that I can trust him because he has NEVER forsaken those who seek him (9:10). Though at times I felt he had turned a deaf ear to my pleas, now I know that "he does not ignore the cry of the afflicted" (9:12). Though at times, failing to see his love, I felt he was unjust, now I know that "the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!" (Isaiah 30:18).

We tend to falsely equate God's blessings with material abundance and carefree living. Though a rich man may receive the praise of men and count himself blessed because of his prosperity (49:18), the one who knows and trusts Jesus as a close friend will be blessed, both now and for eternity, with the peace, strength and joy of his presence and the security of his unfailing love (21:6-7; 40:4; 73:26,28). The relationship is the reward!

"Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless. Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ" (Philippians 3:7-8 CEV).

May we discard our ignorance and pursue the eternal riches of knowing Christ.