How strong convictions come
For reading & meditation: James 1:2-8
"' that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (v.4)
We continue meditating on the first verse of Psalm 73: "Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart." The psalmist has gone through an experience of crippling doubt but the great thing is this: he has emerged from it spiritually enriched and with a deeper confidence in the goodness of God. So he starts with that conclusion and then tells us how he got there. This is one of the great values of the psalms - they reflect and analyse the experiences that we are called upon to face. Ray Steadman says of the psalms: "They are an enactment of what most of us are going through, have gone through or will go through in the walk of faith." Every one of us will be able to understand the psalmist's struggle: we start off with a positive faith in God's goodness and then something happens which causes us to be plagued with doubts. The problem then is how to get back to where we were. This is what the psalmist does in this psalm - he shows us how to return to the place where the soul finds true peace. We should not forget that the strongest convictions are born in the throes of doubt. The statement "God is good to Israel" is a statement grounded in experience. In a similar vein, Dostoevsky, the famous Russian novelist, could say: "It is not as a child that I believe and confess Christ. My hosannah is 'born of a furnace of doubt.' " Doubts may discourage but they need not demoralise you. It is not what happens to you, but what you make of it that matters.
Gracious and loving Father, I pray that You will do for me what You did for the psalmist and help me turn my strongest doubts into my strongest beliefs. I offer You my willingness - now add to it Your power. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
For further study:
1. What characteristic did the psalmist display?
2. What was his confession of faith?