Just on the heels of David longing for his own sin not to be stumbling block to the righteousness of others (Psalm 69), we come to the psalms of Asaph and pick up on a similar theme. In Psalm 73, Asaph talks about a season in which he considered unrighteousness as a potential life path, but then he adds that he didn't tell anyone because he didn't want to betray them with his own personal feelings.
There's a lot to digest in even that brief synopsis of this psalm. Let's start with the fact that Asaph even considers a life of unrighteousness. But let's also be honest and confess for a second - who among us hasn't?
It's a natural reaction to coming to a place in your faith where you have to make a leap of growth. Where what you have believed for so long isn't enough and you need something more, but you can't seem to find what it is that you need. We live our lives longing for the fullness of God and getting it only in doses and spurts until that glorious day when we walk with Him in the Garden once more and so dissatisfaction is only natural at times. And dissatisfaction leads to questioning. And questioning leads to wandering.
There's nothing wrong with this. It's hard for us to be sure of what we have until we give it up for something else and find out the grass isn't always greener on the other side. If you only ever eat white bread, you don't know whether you really like it or not until you try a bite of wheat. Without a little exploration, it's just a habit, just something you do; try something else, and you realize how much it really means to you. (Okay, bread may be a bad example.) But it's what we do with our faith. In a moment when we wonder if our faith is even working for us or if it's just a habit, just something we do, most of us are tempted to wander a bit and see what we find. It's refreshing to see that Asaph considers the same.
But then, he doesn't tell anyone. This is a bit more unlike us. We're tempted to tell everyone we know exactly what we're doing. "I'm taking a break for a little bit." "I'm going to try something new for awhile." "I need to visit other churches and see what's out there." "God just isn't doing it for me any more." "I'm not sure I believe."
There's a fine line here, and it is an important one. As persons of faith, we should absolutely be honest about our questions. Everyone has them, and someone who is authentic and vulnerable about the questions he or she is asking can be of tremendous benefit to the community of faith at large. But we have to be careful because often, when we have started to ask a question, we make out of it a truth. And then we declare not a question, but a truth. Instead of telling our brothers and sisters, "I'm wondering what God even means to me any more," we say, "This whole thing is a sham; God isn't relevant."
Asaph holds his tongue not because he's hiding his questions, but because he doesn't want anyone to mistake his questions for truth.
That's what the last part of this means - he didn't want to betray them with his personal feelings. He knew that his journey was so intimate, so personal, so much his own that he didn't want to risk making it seem like it was a universal reality. He didn't want his experience to redefine the essential truth of God because he understood that God doesn't change based on how he's feeling about Him at the time.
We live in a world where we're told that our feelings are primary, that what we "feel" is "truth" - plain and simple. And so we are taught to declare our feelings out loud, to name them as truth, to reorient the world around us to what is most real for us. But it's impossible to make someone else live our truth without asking them to abandon their own, to give up what they know and trust and believe in order to accommodate our feelings on the matter. That's how this subjective kind of "truth" works.
Asaph realized how easily he could change the lives of others, and not for the better, if he were to introduce to them a new idea that ran counter to all that they knew, just because he happened to be asking a question about it. He knew that human beings are suggestible and while many might dig in and stand firm on what they know, many others would give up everything at the mere idea of something else. He could turn them down a path they never would have wandered, for no other reason than that his season required him to consider it.
Like I said, there's so much to digest from this one little psalm, from this one little synopsis. We all have questions from time to time. Some of us, more often than others. The question is how we are handling our questions and whether or not we're letting our journey become a stumbling block to others. Are we betraying them with our season? With our own personal feelings?
How about if we don't do that. Faith is hard enough as it is.