Have you ever been so frustrated, so angry, so hurt, so depressed, or so exhausted that you just threw your hands up and said, "Why should I even bother?"
Here are a few experiences that have provoked this emotion within me:
- Corrupt political or corporate leaders who abuse their power for personal gain
- Hostility from a neighbor towards my family despite our attempts to shower them with kindness and hospitality
- Immoral and perverted tendencies of our culture that are celebrated and promoted
- Incurable diseases and crippling disabilities that make life so hard
- Widespread statistics of violence, crime and abuse and our apparent inability to stop them
- Terrorism and warfare between nations and religious groups that destroy countries
- Personal susceptibility to certain sins that cause me to stumble with regularity
In the midst of my frustration, pain, and sadness, I've had this thought more times than I would like to admit: "Why should I even bother with righteousness? Maybe I should just give up pursuing God's way and pursue as much pleasure as I can in the here and now."
If you've had similar thoughts, we're not the only ones who have. The Psalmist Asaph famously wrote, "For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked … All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence." (Psalm 73: 3, 13)
Asaph is arguing with the Lord. He grumbles, "I obey your commands and this is the reward I get? Others ignore your existence and they prosper, and when I follow your Word, I get nothing but suffering and trouble.
I don't know about you, but I've been in Asaph's shoes before. That's why I love the honesty contained in the Word of the God - specifically in the Psalms - because it allows us to be honest about our real-life experiences.
But Scripture doesn't just allow us to be honest about our dilemmas; it provides hopeful and helpful solutions. A few verses later, Asaph responds to his own grumbling: "You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (vv. 25-26)
Why should we bother with righteousness when others who don't seem to have the good life? Because God has welcomed us into his eternal kingdom of life.
Why should we pursue God's way when there seems to be a more prosperous way? Because there is no created prosperity on earth that can compare to an intimate relationship with the Creator.
Why should we obey God's Word even when life doesn't make sense? Because the Author of the Word has a perfect plan that will always be accomplished.
Like Asaph, our sin-dimmed eyes won't always see. Our finite minds won't always comprehend. Our fickle hearts won't always trust. Our timid souls won't always have faith. But God is willing to be bothered with our fear, doubt, and confusion.
Most of all, Christ was unwilling to say, "Why should I even bother with their sin?" He experienced the most bother of all to save us from ourselves.
Now that's reason to continue!
- What are you experiencing right now that makes you consider abanonding God's way?
- What specific truths will give you reason to continue as you face the disappointments and difficulties of life?