Sometimes I find when I am reading the Bible, I am dumb struck by one pivitol word in a passage. This morning, I was reading Psalm 73, which is one of my personal favourites.
In this Psalm, Asaph is wrestling with himself as he considers how difficult his life is, and how easily people who have no concern for God seem to skate through life. He says “these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches” (v.12). Basically Asaph is looking at his neighbour and sees that he has a big house and a new car, he never seems to get sick or have family problems, and his favourite team always makes the playoffs – and all this with no apparent regard for God, for honesty, for justice, or for righteousness of any sort.
Then Asaph looks at his own life and sees the problems he’s had. He asks, what is the point of trying to live righteously when the good choices he makes only seem to set him back from a worldly perspective. He is so perplexed and distrubed that his faith was greatly shaken, and he nearly came to the point of throwing in the towel in his walk with God.
Eventually, our friend Asaph gains some perspective on his thinking. He sees that though there may be some temporal advantages for the unrighteous, there are unthinkable eternal consequences. He also sees that he has one great advantage that his unrighteous neighbour doesn’t have – the presence and fellowship of God Himself. It is this relationship with the Living God that is the greatest good for Asaph and for any saint.
All of this is just a survey of the Psalm to come back to the one word that took my breath away this morning. Asaph evaluates his own thinking with regards to his successful neighbour and concludes that he was being bitter and as stupid as a thoughtless animal (v.21-22).
Then comes the glorious word “Nevertheless”, and the blessings that follow.
Verse 23-24 says “Nevertheless I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your councel, and afterward you will recieve me to glory.”
Asaph was bitter and stupid and misguided in his thinking, and yet in spite of all this, the Lord’s presence never left him, his hand never stopped holding him, his guidance never faltered, and his future provision was never in doubt.
“Nevertheless”: what a wonderful word for people like me who too easily become bitter and stupid and just plain wrong in their thinking! God stays with me, loves me, guides me, provides for me, protects me, simply because he has chosen to do so for the sake of Christ.
Thank God that he is faithful to his people when they are not, that he loves his people when their love is cold, that he guides his people when they can’t see their way forward, and that for those of us who trust Christ but still struggle in so many ways, there is always a “nevertheless”.