My Earthly Strength May Depart
Why must we so often be reminded to look to God? I posit that for the American Christian living in the 21st century the problem is an embarrassment of riches. Life is too good. We even dare to complain when we are troubled by something Tylenol, a hug, or sleep won’t fix. “I’m starving” is a common refrain to cry out when late to a second or third meal of the day. This earthly life is too good to many of us.
In 2000, Brother Matthew Bassford wrote a song (along with Sister Glenda Schales) entitled “The Rock of My Heart”:
“My Lord, I need nothing beside You: Without you, I could not have stood. Your promise is my hope and my refuge; Your nearness, my strength and my good.
When I was distressed and embittered. By things I could not understand Your presence was continually with me; You always took hold of my hand.
I know that Your counsel will guide me in wisdom, devotion, and love. And afterward You’ll call me to glory to dwell in Your presence above.
(Chorus) My heart may be broken within me; my earthly strength may depart. But You are my portion forever, You are the Rock of my heart. You are the Rock of my heart.”
The song is taken from Psalm 73.2, 21-28 and the lyrics richly reflect the Hebrew in ways that help us to understand what Asaph may have been feeling as he penned the inspired song. What struggles Asaph must have been facing to admit being “senseless”, “ignorant”, and “a brute beast” (73.22) in the face of God. Asaph finds that his comfort must come not from himself, but that his refuge must be in “Adonay Yahweh my Machseh” (Master, God, my Shelter) (73.28). Why might Brother Bassford be so attached to this psalm? Our brother has ALS. His earthly strength is departing. He has admitted times when he became distressed and embittered. I can only imagine his struggles. May God forgive my senselessness, ignorance, arrogance, bruteness. May the comforts of this world depart from all of us if we have forgotten the only true shelter is in our Master. Mercy, please.