Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (NIV)
There are times when we think we are pretty secure in our faith. And then something happens to cause us to wonder. It could be some unforeseen setback, a chronic illness, a betrayal, a loss. The firm foothold we figured we had is not as firm as we thought.
Our Psalmist had this experience when he observed that those who defied God seemed to be getting a better deal in life than he was. He poses the question many of us pose: is there any advantage to going God’s way? Are we on the losing side? How come that despite my prayers and devotion, things continue to go wrong when others seem to get all the breaks?
We can of course respond that we go God’s way not to secure an easy life but because he is God and is worthy of our love and obedience. Not to mention the sure promise of life everlasting and forgiveness of sins. Which is why the Psalmist has not lost his foothold. It was a possibility but did not eventuate. The Psalm goes on to describe his recovery of perspective and recognition that God’s ways are best after all.
Many of us can testify to this “near miss” experience. We have not given up our faith. We have not lost hope. We have not abandoned God. But at times it has come close. Things happen, thoughts arise, that make us doubt and wonder. Slipping and sliding are a real possibility unless perspective is restored. Our faith can at the one-time be utterly firm and also utterly fragile.