Have you ever felt that life is unfair? Ever looked around and wondered why the wicked seem to escape any consequences for their evil? Or why the godly seem to suffer for their faithfulness? Maybe you have felt the pain of that unfairness as you look at world history. Or maybe you’ve experienced injustice yourself in your family, school, business, in your employment, in politics, in relationships, or in sport. Cheats win, the honest lose. Bad people win, good people lose. Lies win, truth loses. It can be really depressing can’t it? How can we ease the pain of injustice?
I have experienced injustice and unfairness at different points in my life. As someone with a deep passion for justice, any experience of injustice is especially painful for me. I’ve experienced it in my family, in sport, and even in the church. Cheats win, the honest lose. Bad people win, good people lose. Lies win, truth loses. How can we ease the pain of injustice? Asaph takes us to the window of prayer to change our view and perspective.
We’ve been looking at prayer using different biblical images to teach us to pray:
- The cross: Taught us how to pray in Jesus name
- The throne: Taught us to pray with confidence
- The battlefield: Taught us to pray as in a war.
- The supper: Taught us to view prayer as communion
- The door: Taught us to pray for all our needs
This week, we are looking at prayer as a window, a way of seeing things from God’s perspective.
What happens when we only see things from our perspective? Pain.
I. PAIN IS A PRISON
The pain of wicked people prospering
Asaph was plunged into the agonizing darkness of envy when he saw:
- The arrogance and success of the wicked (3)
- The health and strength of the wicked (4)
- The peace and pleasure of the wicked (5)
- The pride and violence of the wicked (6)
- The scorn and satisfaction of the wicked (7)
- The malice and oppression of the wicked (8)
- The blasphemy and power of the wicked (9)
- The praise and honor of the wicked (10)
- The atheism and influence of the wicked (11)
- The freedom and ease of the wicked (12)
The pain of godly people suffering
Part of Asaph’s pain was seeing the ungodly prospering. But an even greater pain was seeing the godly suffering. When he looked at the godly he saw:
- Pure motives and a pure lifestyle (13)
- Daily pain and daily punishment (14)
This painful contrast between the wicked’s prosperity and godly’s suffering was deeply troubling to him (16). Although he tried to persuade himself that God was good and a godly life was worth it (1), he could hardly stand with the shock of the contrast (2), with the envy he felt welling up inside him (3), with the shameful embarrassment of his thoughts (15), and with the wearying confusion that enveloped him (16).
Asaph had accurate eyes, but he could only see inside of prison. His eyes were accurate in what they were seeing. Nowhere does God come in and say, “Asaph, your sight is terrible, you need glasses.” He was not mistaken or making things up. But, as we will see, he was not using a widow that would have transformed what he was seeing. Using just his physical sense of sight he was left in the darkness of physical reality. The result was a painful dark prison of confusion and depression.
CHANGING OUR STORIES WITH GOD’S STORY
Right eyes, no window. If we look at ourselves or the world with only our physical eyes, we will see only what is physically true, and that’s often a deeply depressing sight. If you let the media or social media or just your own senses be your primary means of seeing this world, you will end up in a painful windowless dark prison of confusion and depression. Like Asaph you will end up shaken to the core, tempted to backslide, and want to be wicked rather than godly.
EYESIGHT IS HEARTPAIN
How can I find God’s window? How can I see things from God’s perspective?
II. PRAYER IS A WINDOW
Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end (17).
As long as Asaph viewed the world with just his own eyes, he was imprisoned in pain. But when he went into God’s sanctuary, into the place of prayer, a big bright window was opened to him, enabling him to see beyond physical sight. As he prayed, a new window on the world opened up and enabled him to see everything differently. He saw both a spiritual dimension to this life as well as an eternal dimension after this life, flooding his soul with light and liberty.
He saw an eternity of pain for the wicked
Instead of seeing the here and now of the wicked, he saw the there and then of the wicked. He saw their end, their spiritual and eternal end. He saw their previously confident steps slipping under them as they cannot find their footing (18). He saw their strength and success falling into ruins (18). He saw them destroyed in a split second and swept away into hell on a tsunami of terror (19). He saw God treat them like a bad dream (20). Asaph saw the end is all that matters. He sees the horrific end of the ungodly and is horrified by his previous thoughts and feelings (21-22). He saw that he was seeing as a mere animal.
He saw an eternity of pleasure for the godly
God was guiding Asaph, holding his right hand, counseling him to look through the right window, guiding him with his Word (24). He saw how he should see while he lived in this world, and just as he saw the wicked differently, he also saw the godly differently. Again, the window of prayer showed him the end is all that matters. “Afterward…” (24). After all dark prisons he spent time in while living here, he sees there is an afterward. “Afterward you will receive me to glory” (24). After all the pain…glory. Immediate and immeasurable and indescribable glory. This will be a glorious place, with a glorious Savior, with a glorious company, in a glorious condition, for a glorious eternity. We will have a glorious body and a glorious soul
The Christian life is really summed up in this one verse: “You guide me with your counsel (life here), and afterward you will receive me to glory (life hereafter)” (24). His new worldview gave him a new God view. He may have little in this world, but now, having God, he has enough (25-28).
CHANGING OUR STORIES WITH GOD’S STORY
Prayer changes our worldview. Spending time in God’s presence changes the way we look at everything. Prayer is not just about getting things from God, it’s about personal transformation. We often say, “Prayer Changes Things” but it mainly changes us. It changes what we see, how we see, when we see, and who we see. The biggest change that prayer effects is that we see the end is all that matters.
Prayer changes our mental health. When we see God’s justice putting right all the wrongs, when we see the godly’s fortunes reversed, when we see the glorious future that awaits us, that cannot but improve our mental health and even become a fund of mental and spiritual wealth. The Psalms are full of this kind of perspective changing.
PRAYER PRODUCES PERSPECTIVE
A NEW CHAPTER
See the cross. No one suffered more unfairly than Jesus, but through prayer he battled successfully to keep the end in view (John 17; Heb. 12:2). He suffered eternal pain to give his people eternal pleasure. Show the cross to others too, that they may have a good end.
See the end. The end is really all that matters. A good life is desirable, but a good eternity is essential. Pray your way to the end of the road and the end of all human history. The more you pray, the less the pain. All wrongs will be put right. The evil will lose everything and the good will win everything. Show the end to others too, that they may have a good end.
Prayer. Perfect Seer, give us perfect seeing through prayer so that we can reduce our present pain and increase our eternal pleasure, and help others to do the same.
1. What injustice have you suffered in the past or still in the present?
2. How has that injustice affected you?
3. How has this Psalm changed your view of prayer?
4. How is prayer changing you, especially your worldview?
5. What is your most used window on the world? The media? Social Media? Prayer?
6. How will you help someone this week to refocus on the end?