Randy Langham
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At the end of the first few months in college, I prepared to vacate the premises for the 3-week Christmas break. Consequently, the dormitory leaders told all the residents to clean out the small refrigerators, unplug them, and leave the doors open. That I did.

When I returned three weeks later, a hideous stench welcomed me into the room. Immediately windows flew open, the front door flew open (to the disgust of the others on that floor), and the diligent search began for the cause of the smell. Seeing the inside of the refrigerator caked with black and green mold, I immediately closed the fridge door. Time passed and so did the smell – until someone came into the room and opened the refrigerator door. As always, the stench sent people scampering to open windows and doors and to run down the hallways. A residual smell in the room was then covered up with aerosol sprays.

Many days passed, and things were great. You know, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Soon, I came to a brilliant conclusion, “Renting an empty refrigerator does me no good.” So I figured out a plan to remove all odors: a friend would open the door quickly, I would throw an open box of baking soda in the fridge, and the friend would close the door as the box flew by. As always, more stench blew out and guys ran.

The problem remained. Out of desperation I committed himself to find the problem, knowing full well the pain I would have to endure. I hyperventilated, took a deep breath, threw open the refrigerator door, and frantically looked for the problem. The refrigerator was completely empty. The freezer was empty. What was the problem!? “Oh hurry up, I can’t stand this stench. God, what is the problem?” Wait a minute, what is this drawer underneath the freezer. I pulled it out and slosh, slosh went an old package, which used to contain ham slices. The stench while cleaning the fridge was still terrible, but easily bearable, since I knew the problem would end soon.

Let’s review the story. The pain experienced was the horrible stench. The trigger producing pain was the opening of the door. The wrong responses were many, but a few of them included doing nothing, tossing a box of baking soda inside, and using aerosols. The right response was finding the root problem even if it required enduring more pain. The root problem was a leftover package of ham. And the final solution consisted of removing the old package and cleaning the refrigerator one final time.

Did you know that most people have junk buried deep in their hearts and they spend their entire lives keeping the door shut, refusing to admit the pain and oftentimes pretending the problem even exists.

In Psalm 73 Asaph, one of the music leaders for the nation of Israel, explains how he was stuck in emotional heaviness regarding a particular problem and finally found the solution, gaining peace and calm.

He agonized often because he wanted more in life. When he saw the wicked people prospering he concluded that living for God was a waste of time. It was as if he said, “Oh, how everyone else is blessed in life. That is, everyone, but me. How did I get cheated out of life? I try to live the best I know how, and God doesn’t bless me the way He blesses others! Look at what they have! They live in the nicer part of town. All I have for transportation is a cheap mule, but they have a two-hump camel, known in our community as the humper 2. Their transportation gets much better mileage, while mine is really stubborn. What difference does it make to live a godly life?”

In verses 2-16 he gripes on and on about how the wicked prosper. He becomes obsessed. In verse 16 he says, When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me (NKJV).

Let’s overlap the two stories: the refrigerator and Asaph.

Asaph admits his pain is related to his envy, and this emotion came from what he believed. Think about it. When you are embarrassed your face might turn red. When you get angry or frightened your body pumps adrenaline into your system. When you choose to be bitter, you may become tense and do damage to your body. Stress can tighten muscles in the back of the jaws and produce TMJ. Guilt can take away your appetite. The Bible says that a joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones (Pro 17:22). So what about envy? The answer is in the Bible: A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones (Pro 14:30). There it is! Asaph’s constant focus on envy had affected his bones, and in the bones the blood is made. As his body suffered from this attitude his daily pain intensified.

What triggered Asaph’s envy? The second half of verse 3 shows that every time he saw the prosperity of the wicked he fueled his envy by continuing his gaze and comparing his lifestyle to theirs.

What were the wrong responses made by Asaph? He fell into a pity-party (1-16). He rehearsed the painful thoughts (4-12,14). He compared himself to the wicked (1-3,13). He viewed the situation from his own perspective (17). And nothing he did removed the pain.

So what did he do to get rid of his pain? That story begins with verse 17: Until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end. When Asaph finally went to the Lord he received the truth and the agony ended. Instead of envying the wicked who prospered, he saw the true destiny of the wicked and extreme compassion swept over him.

Notice the passage does not emphasize that Asaph just went to a type of building, but rather to the sanctuary, or presence of God. The Lord gave him the truth. Then he saw clearly the destiny of the wicked, even though they experienced prosperity in the present.

Notice that Psalm 73 never states explicitly the root lie that Asaph believed. But as we look at the next three verses we get a hint at what the psalmist really believed. Perhaps from these verses, we can read that Asaph previously felt unloved (?), or that he needed to feel accepted (?). Maybe he felt abandoned (?) at one point in his life and he embraced a corresponding lie.

After discovering the truth he had a peace and a calm in his heart, for he said, Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth (73:25).

Now for the important question. What’s in your refrigerator? What deep-seated pains exist in you and you refuse to admit they exist or to admit they need to be removed? Cry out to God. He is the truth, and when He speaks all related lies disappear.

What’s in Your Refrigerator?

September  20, 2018

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