But it is good for me to draw near to God

Psa 73:28 But [it is] good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.

At the age of 22 Jim seemed to have everything going for him, but one night his motorcycle was hit by a twenty ton bus. He lost his left leg below the knee. Jim recovered and learned to run marathons with only one leg. Then in 1993 while competing in a triathlon a van was mistakenly allowed on the street and hit Jim head on.

The impact snapped his neck and left Jim paralyzed. Confined to a wheelchair he lived in constant pain. He won a settlement for the accident, moved to Hawaii did drugs and wallowed in self-pity. One night he looked up to the sky and yelled, “Why are you doing this to me?
He did not understand the principal in Psalm 73.

Joni hit her head on a log while diving at a swimming hole and broke her neck. It made her a quadrapaligic in her teen years. All the hopes and dreams of a young girl, gone in a flash. Paralyzed for life.

She became angry and very depressed. Laying in that hospital bed day after day, week after week, month after month, and at only 17 years of age. No hope of ever walking again. Can you imagine it.

She had a choice to make. Stay angry at God, blame Him for it, or draw near to God. Even though you don’t understand the reasons why. Even thou you can’t see how He could let this happen to you. The bible says, but it is good for me to draw near to God. What would she do.

Several years after the accident her family took her on a camping trip. She could not go on any of the hiking trails so she was going to stay behind and read. Her sister placed a book in front of Joni and carefully dog-eared its pages so Joni could turn them. Her shoulder muscles weren’t very strong and she had no movement or feeling in her hands but with a shrug and a bicep swing she could nudge things like papers with her arm splint.

Joni assured them that she would be okay and she watched her sisters until they became specks on the dirt trail lining the ridge. Joni settled in to read her book but on the very first turn of the page she shrugged too hard. Her book slid of the table and plopped on the ground. For a moment she stared at it, sick that she had miscalculated her arm angle. She sighed and looked around. All the other camper trailers were quiet. No one was around to help.

She felt resentment begin to rise up. Of all the times for this to happen. Her face began to flush and she knew that she was on the brink of another feel sorry for Joni day. She could not let a stupid book ambush her and she made up her mind that she would not let self-pity take her down the grim anxious road to depression. She was more fearful of that than of her being paralyzed. And she had good reason to be. She had experienced the true horrors of deep depression.

So she prayed. “Please, dear God, “she pleaded, “come rescue me by this picnic table.” “Please help me. I know you can.” “If I can’t go hiking and get out into your wonderful creation then would you bring your creation close to me? Bring a butterfly. A caterpillar. Anything. Just show me you are here.”

She sniffed from her crying and waited for several minutes. Then she began looking around again. Nothing moved. Not even the pine branch over their campsite. For half an hour or more she waited and hoped. Searching the skies for an eagle, searching the ground for a chipmunk, the picnic table for an ant. But nothing strirred.

It seemed like forever before her sisters returned all excited from the walk and the view and the deer that they saw. Then they saw Joni’s book on the ground. Jay picked it up and said you did not get very far. I’m sorry Joni.

Joni told them that she prayed and asked God to bring his creation close to her and that nothing happened. She told them not even a caterpillar.

That evening her sister Kathy took Joni out to roast marshmallows. As Kathy pierced another marshmallow Joni thought that she saw something move in the dark behind her sister. She squinted, focusing a few feet beyond her back. Yes, something large and black was swaying slowly – maybe a dog.

Kathy –
Before she could get any words out the giant dog rose slowly to its back feet. Dogs don’t do that she thought. This was no dog. The giant thing paused right behind her sister and –
Kathy, don’t move!
Kathy gave Joni a strange look.
There’s a bear right behind you,
Jo-o-oni, she groaned, quit with your dumb jokes. She shook her head and muttered, beanhead.
The bear bobbed his head, sniffing for marshmallows and suddenly he rose higher.
Kathy, listen to me! There’s a bear – and he’s right there.
Kathy put down her stick, slowly stood up, turned, and came within inches of a shiny black nose.
Oh No- she stifled a scream. She sat back down, tightly grasping the log. Theres’s a bear right behind me Kathy whispered.

The bear sniffed Kathy’s back and grunted. The bear turned aside and focused on the bag of marshmallows and then saw a few burnt ones in the dirt and began licking them. Now he was in the firelight and they could both see him. His black coat, huge head, large flat paws. And as he chewed the marshmallows Joni caught the gleam of shiny teeth.

Then the bear came Joni’s way. He lumbered around the fire pit and began snorting at the foot pedals of her wheelchair. She couldn’t believe it. A bear was practically in her lap.

When he meandered closer to the picnic table, the door of the Winnebago was thrown open. The bear whirled around nearly knocking the table over. Pots and pans went flying and frightened now the bear lunged past Kathy and disappeared into the night.

Later it hit Joni. The Lord did answer her prayer. And what a first class answer! This was no butterfly or caterpillar. This wasn’t a little answer. This was gigantic. It was an affirmation to her of God’s faithfulness. The Lord of creation had answered.

She decieded to draw near to God. A great decision. The right decision. And she went on to be used of God to encourage the disabled. She was used to show forth the love of Christ to others. Her life is a testimony to our verse tonight.
Yes it took her a few years, but she learned this principal.

Psa 73:28 But [it is] good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.

Joni had hard things come her way. But she decieded that it was good for her to draw near to God anyway. She put her trust in the Lord God, and became a great witness for Him.

You might never become paralyzed. You may never have as hard a time as Joni did. But we all sooner or later run into things that we don’t understand. We all have trials and tribulations in this life. And no matter what it is, no matter how tough, no matter how confusing, God’s word declares It is good for me to draw near to God.

We should all be determined to say with the psalmist. But it is good for me to draw near to God. And in all circumstances of life. If you lose your job, when the doctor has bad news.
When someone hurts you, when you experience and see things that you don’t understand will you cry Why Lord with a clenched fist like our first example. Or will you say But it is good for me to draw near to God.

The first word in our verse is very important. It is the word But. To understand what he is talking about we need to look at what he wrote before.

Psa 73:1 A Psalm of Asaph. Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.

Psa 73:2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.

The Psalmist is having a spiritual battle. He sees something that he does not understand and he has let it almost stop his forward walk with God.

Psa 73:3 For I was envious at the foolish, [when] I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
Psa 73:4 For [there are] no bands in their death: but their strength [is] firm.
Psa 73:5 They [are] not in trouble [as other] men; neither are they plagued like [other] men.

This man takes a look around him and notices something that he does not understand.
He sees the prosperity of the wicked, and it is even more than all their money, he sees that they do not have trouble as other men.

If their horse is getting old and slow he can just buy a new young horse. Other men might have to let their old horse rest an extra day before he can go for supplies.

We see a similar thing today. The average person today has to keep their old car running. The alternator will go bad, get that fixed and it needs new brakes, think you are all good and now it is the fuel pump or transmission. The rich do not have those troubles; they just buy a new car.

The writer of Psalm 73 sees the prosperity of the wicked. Men who are doing wicked things are prospering. And good men who love God are having trouble.
Things have not changed in the thousands of year since this was written. O’ the items have changed. They had horses and we have cars, but the principal has not changed.

And as he is pondering this, he notices something else.

Psa 73:6 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.

Not having trouble as other men causes the wicked who prosper to be lifted up in pride. And it keeps going. Violence covers them. The illustration used here is a garment. Like a robe that covers your body. They are wrapped in violence. Like a garment covers all sides of you, violence is about them in all directions.

They are immersed in pride and violence. These men have no care for others, they will hurt anyone especially if it is to their advantage. And it will not bother them at all. Why? Pride. They think they are better than others and that they are entitled to have more. And hurting others to get it is ok with them for after all they deserve to have more.

Psa 73:7 Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.

He sees the prosperity of the wicked and envies them. Look how good they have it. They are not having any trouble like other men. Have you ever been there? You see someone who seems to have it all. Money, the big house, the high paying job, the great car. You are driving a wreak that barely runs. You are barely making ends meet. You are doing your best to live for God and are barely making it. And you see some wicked man prospering and not having any trouble.
In fact they have more than your heart could wish.

The Psalmist sees this, does not understand how God can let this be. God I am trying, they are wicked, I am having trouble and they are prospering. He notices this and he makes the mistake of letting it affect his heart. He was envious.

Psa 73:6 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them [as] a garment.

He notices their great excessive pride. And he notices how they are violent. God I am trying to do right. I am a humble servant of yours, I am peaceful and trying to love people, and they are prideful and wicked. They harm others. They are clothed in violence. How can this be? Where is judgment?

Psa 73:8 They are corrupt, and speak wickedly [concerning] oppression: they speak loftily.
Psa 73:9 They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.

Psa 73:11 And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High?
Psa 73:12 Behold, these [are] the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase [in] riches.

God they are wicked, they are filled with violence. They even have the audacity to set their mouth against the heavens. They speak against you Lord. They say things like is there knowledge in the most High? Their lips are full of blasphemy. And yet they prosper.

As we read this, can you see the spiritual struggle this man is having. He is seeing things and he does not understand the reason why. And he is making the mistake of letting it affect his heart and his walk with the Lord.

Psa 73:13 Verily I have cleansed my heart [in] vain, and washed my hands in innocency.
Psa 73:14 For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.

He says I have been chastened every morning. Lord you spank me when I do something wrong, but you let them get away with anything and everything. This man does not understand and look at what he says in verse 16.

Psa 73:16 When I thought to know this, it [was] too painful for me;

This man does not understand the reason why and it is having a terrible affect upon him. He is a spiritual mess. He looks at things and thinks that he knows better than God. He thinks that God should not let the wicked prosper. He thinks God should meet out justice and do it now.
He has seen things and he does not understand the reason why, he has let it go to his heart. His heart is in turmoil. He has lost his joy in the Lord. He says it is too painful for me.

And now he is standing on dangerous ground. He is second guessing God. With his attitude he is far from the will of God.
But then he does a good thing. He goes to the house of God and learns. In verse 16 he says it was too painful for me. And then in verse 17.

Psa 73:17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; [then] understood I their end.
Psa 73:18 Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.
Psa 73:19 How are they [brought] into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.

He learns that God will meet out judgment upon the wicked. Their destruction is certain. In God’s perfect timing they will be brought into desolation as in a moment. One day they will wake up in the flames of hell and will be utterly consumed with terrors.

He learns that God does indeed see all, knows all, and will one day judge all. Nothing will ever get by Almighty God. The wicked are not getting away with anything. God is just letting their cup of iniquity fill up.

The Psalmist learns that he did not know as much as he thought he did. He learns that he has misjudged God and His ways. How will that knowledge affect him?

Psa 73:21 Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.
Psa 73:22 So foolish [was] I, and ignorant: I was [as] a beast before thee.

He was grieved. Conviction came down upon him. He had realized what a terrible sin it is to judge God. There will be things that happen that we can’t understand. Hard things will come into all of our lives and we will not see the reason why, but that does not give us any right to pass judgment upon God.

This man learns this and he says So foolish was I, and ignorant. And he says I was as a beast before thee. He sees his great sin of doubting God, and confesses it.
And notice he is no longer in a spiritual mess. The battle is over.

Psa 73:23 Nevertheless I [am] continually with thee: thou hast holden [me] by my right hand.

He realizes that although things are tough for him, that God is there. He is being held by the hand of God.

Psa 73:24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me [to] glory.

The Psalmists eyes are now upon the Lord. He is going to trust that the Lord will guide him thru this life, and He is looking forward to glory. He has the assurance that he is going to Heaven.

Psa 73:25 Whom have I in heaven [but thee]? and [there is] none upon earth [that] I desire beside thee.

His desires are no longer for an easy prosperous life. The wealth of the rich no longer matters. His desire, his heart is for the Lord.

Psa 73:26 My flesh and my heart faileth: [but] God [is] the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

He is no longer troubled by things he does not understand. God is on the throne. The Psalmist has learned that his portion is in this life, and forevermore, is the Lord. He says there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. He is no longer envious of the rich or those who have no problems.

This man was troubled by things he did not understand (his trials and others prosperity), then he learned of his foolishness doubting God, he confessed it, and you see the joy in his heart return.
He went from a spiritual mess to praising God.
Did his trials go away. No. He just fixed his attitude.
He has learned that yes hard things come my way,

But [it is] good for me to draw near to God: No matter what I don’t understand. No matter what trials comes my way.
What a great lesson to learn, and it is a lesson that we all need to learn. This is something that all believers must face sooner or later.

Remember John the Baptist. He said,
Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

John gets thrown into prison and is going to die.
Now John is having doubts
Luk 7:19 And John calling [unto him] two of his disciples sent [them] to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?

What happened? Was it the fact that Jesus was leaving him in prison? Or like so many other Jews, did John expect Jesus to usher in the kingdom right then. Or maybe some of both. Whatever the case, John had come face to face with a God that he did not understand. John did not understand the reasons why.
John was learning this principal
Yes things are hard, Yes there are things that I don’t understand, but it is good for me to draw near to God, I have put my trust in the Lord God.

I have put my trust in the Lord GOD,
Yes I don’t understand. But I am going to trust God anyway. That is the place of spiritual victory in the midst of the storm.

We need to understand that we can’t understand.

Rom 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable [are] his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

His ways are not our ways. He has perfect knowledge.
Isaiah asks,
Isa 40:13 Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or [being] his counsellor hath taught him?
Romans says,
Rom 11:34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?

The answer to those questions is no one.

Psa 145:17 The LORD [is] righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.

He has reasons for the trials. Our place is not to pass judgment on the trials. Our place is to trust in God. We are to walk by faith and not by sight.

Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.

We need to be like the Psalmist and declare, I have put my trust in the Lord God.
When the hard things come, instead of running from God, we need to run to God.
Where else are you going to find the strength and the grace to get thru it?

Heb 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.
Heb 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Jesus allows our trials for a reason. We can’t understand all the whys. But we know that Jesus loves us. He understands all our hurts, and He will help us thru it.
We need to believe in the goodness of God.
Sprugeon said,
He who is ready to believe the goodness of God shall always see fresh goodness to believe in, and he who is willing to declare the works of God shall never be silent for lack of wonders to declare.
When hard things come and you don’t understand, will you cry with Jim, Why are you doing this to me, or will you be like Joni and draw close to God anyway and declare all His works.

Psa 73:28 But [it is] good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.

See more The Word Teaches posts