I will never forget sitting across the table from Mark and Carolyn as she, speaking for them and he acknowledging her precise words, spoke of the loss of their son, and said, “Our grief does not define us; it refines us.” Would you be able to say that?

Confident in Christ alone and in His ultimate eternal outcomes, Mark and Carolyn’s continuing grief does not control them but it has reshaped them in devotion to Christ, others, and each other. They’ve wrestled with God and the whole situation and come down on the side of God, believing He is always good and loving, and worthy of worship and our devotion. After all, He is God.

In our slow trek through the Psalms we’ve come to Psalm 10. It is striking as it immediately asks, “Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Startled by the bluntness, we know the reality is just the opposite yet we, too, ask—and God let’s us do so without shutting us up too soon. Parents understand. Patient bosses understand. Loving spouses understand.

In this God-breathed song preserved for us we see a potent contrast between the wicked and the Godly. Which one do I act like in my troubles?

Those that act like the wicked race along without any reference to their Creator. One writer notes, “The cause of their careless indulgence is their base contempt of God.” It’s a heart issue (vs. 6, 11, 13). The unnamed Psalmist notes, “For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul…In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek Him” (vs. 3-4). Verse four has a funny literal construction, “the wicked according to the height of his nose.” That’s deep haughtiness! While it is easy to see arrogance in those obviously evil, can you imagine there are times we act like them in our heart—trusting in ourselves, forgetting God, ignoring the consequences of our deep-seated self-confidence? Let us then, as the Psalmist, pray. “The use of prayer is,” wrote an ancient writer, “that God may be the witness of all our affections.” Ouch.

Followers of Christ have a different heart-set than the wicked. They recognize God sees (v. 14). God hears (v. 17). Even deeper, He listens (v. 17). And, God acts in justice against His enemies and for His followers (v. 18). By His own words, Jesus offers “rest” to weary and heavy burdened followers. And—gulp—He will judge the wicked who reject Him and follow their own ways (Matthew 11:28-30; Cf. Isaiah 63:9; John 5:25-30).

For what loss—small or immeasurable—do you grieve? There will be many in this world and life before heaven. When they occur, will you—will I—toss aside Jesus Christ in whose presence there is “the path of life…fullness of joy”…pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11)?

Truly, God isn’t “Absent With Out Leave.” Will we be?