Thursday, August 12, 2010

Heart Strength

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)

“God is the strength of my heart.” What a statement! What an encouragement! The word “heart” very often means “will,” so in this verse we can read, “My flesh and my heart (my will) may fail, but God is the strength of my heart (my will). In other words, there are times when we may more or less lose the will to continue, so that discouragement sets in, and when that happens we need to remember that God is the One who strengthens our wills, our resolve to continue forward.

The psalmist of Psalm 73 expressed all this in concrete ways. He shows us first that God is the strength of our hearts when we can’t seem to figure out why God allows the arrogant, the wicked to seemingly get by with almost anything. He writes of how the wicked seem to prosper, are well fed, don’t see the troubles that many others see, don’t have to deal with much affliction if any, and wear pride like a necklace.

It’s a fair question. Why does God allow the wicked to live and prosper? Well, if God decided just to do away with all evil, that means He would have to wipe out everybody, including you and me. So, where’s the compassion in that? God’s grace means that He allows us all the live and make our choices, but He also says that there is a day of reckoning coming.

The psalmist also shows us that God is the strength of our hearts when we try hard to live a pure life in the midst of people who just don’t care, who don’t love God at all, when that then brings us to a place of frustration. The psalmist found resolution for this, though. It came for him in worship. He wrote, “It seemed hopeless until I entered God’s sanctuary. Then I understood their destiny.” (verses 16-17)

In the presence of the Almighty, from the perspective of the eternal, we hear the voice of wisdom say, “They come to an end, swept away by terrors.” (verse 19b) That is when the stark reality of a final judgment sobers us with its terrible consequence. It spurs us on to continue on our own path and motivates us as well to keep trying to lead the wayward toward the compassion of God and away from the consequence of God.

Moses wrote of strength of heart in Deuteronomy 6. After giving what Jesus called “the greatest commandment,” Moses said, “These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart.” (Deuteronomy 6:6) When God is the strength of our heart, His word then becomes the tool for strengthening our hearts.

Lord, We thank You that You are the strength of our hearts. Amen.

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