Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure. But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.
Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant— I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. (NLT)
It is so easy to lose our foothold when taking the road less traveled, the road of following God’s ways. In this case, the Psalmist has looked around him and figured that those who defy God seem to be getting along just fine. What’s the point of following God?! And so the Psalmist slipped because his eyes became focused on immediate material reality and not the overarching reality of God himself.
He gets his perspective back later in the Psalm and he rightly confesses that he has been looking at things the wrong way. (The intermediate verses not printed here are well worth reading). The ultimate reality in life is not what appears to be happening in front of our very eyes. If we took this view, then we could well give up on God, our feet would slip, because on the face of it following God doesn’t bring about lots of immediate rewards. The good guys cop it and the bad guys get away scot free.
But so often Christian living is a matter of wearing the right set of spectacles. We need to see things differently. Such as seeing that God holds us in his hand, that strong protective right hand. Such as realizing that this life is not all there is. Such as facing up to the fact of our mortality and finiteness and recognizing that being with God now and forever is the ultimate reality and nothing can compare with it.
Fixing our eyes on God means that he puts into the right perspective all that happens on earth. Fixing our eyes on eternal friendship with God (which the Bible calls heaven) means that we don’t get preoccupied and anxious about all the crazy mixed up things that characterize life here on earth.
None of us can control circumstances or dictate what happens to us. But each of us can determine how he or she handles circumstances. We can leave God out of the picture and lose our footing and succumb to envy and despair. We can put God at the centre of the picture and keep our foothold as we see all things in the light of the bedrock reality of his ever-present love for us.