For the longest time, I do have to admit that I gave into envy on a regular basis. I knew that it was wrong and sinful, but it’s something that I struggled with for a long time. Was I envious of people with more money or fame or power? No. I was envious of people who had found a spouse. I was single for the first 33 years of my life, and I didn’t want to be. I came into contact with a host of potential girlfriends, thought they might be “the one,” only to be shot down when they made it clear that they just wanted to be “just friends.” I tried to stick to God’s standards for sexual morality, and managed to stay (at least physically) pure. Meanwhile, I saw several guys seemingly go through girlfriends like Kleenexes, then treat them like something you scrape off your shoe. I was doing everything right, while I saw guys who were doing everything wrong (seemingly) get away with it. Even among my brothers in Christ, who also were trying to stick to God’s standards, I had to fight off envy as I watched them get married to beautiful (and godly) ladies.
I guess we all struggle with envy at times, but what about worry? Most of us don’t have mortal enemies (at least on the human level) like David, but we might have someone at work who's trying to stab us in the back, or maybe we have someone in our own family who can’t be trusted. So it’s easy to fall into worry or envy when you see someone getting ahead by bad means. Fortunately, today’s psalm offers the cure to both of these: the proper perspective.
First, we need to see everyone around us in light of eternity. They might be in their prime right now, but the bloom will fall off the rose soon enough. They’ll be here today and gone tomorrow, and then face our Judge. In the meantime, our Father will provide everything we need, and protect us from all real harm. And someday soon, he’ll “make [our] righteous reward shine like the dawn, [our] vindication like the noonday sun.” And our final inheritance--unlike theirs--will be permanent and glorious. As someone once put it, "When you're going through really hard times, remember that this is as close to Hell as you're ever going to get. When you see a lost man, keep in mind that (barring his repentance), this'll be the only Heaven he's ever going to see."
But we can see his handiwork—to some degree—even today. If we’re walking close to him and developing an intimate relationship with him, then when hard times come (and they surely will) we might “stumble” but we won’t “fall.” He’ll keep our steps firm.
Why did I link these two flaws, envy and worry? Well, the Psalm links them, starting with the first verse and going through the rest of the chapter. They both actually start out from the same cause, and they have the same cure. If we fail to trust our Father and take our eyes off him, then we can fall into either of those two traps, or even both. So what’s the cure? Put our focus back on him and on his truth! Delight ourselves in him, commit our way to him, and trust in him. As a teacher of mine once put it, not exactly rocket surgery or brain science, folks.
Lord Jesus, I know what I need to do, but it’s so hard sometimes. You're so good to me, so patient. Please help me to trust you better.