Last week, I had the thought, “I’m ready for some joy!” What is it that’s keeping me from feeling joyful right now? As so often happens, the Scriptures give me words that I lack. Psalm 37 commands us, “Fret not yourself…”
1Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
2 For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.
3 Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
In its context, David addresses how we should respond to those who seek to harm us - evildoers and the wicked. The threats are real, but three times David tells us, “fret not yourself,” and instead wait for God’s protection.
Fretting. That’s not a common word, but it’s a good one! There’s the familiar meaning of “being constantly or visibly worried or anxious,” but it also means, “gradually wearing away by rubbing or gnawing.” Surfaces that are bolted together can ‘fret’ as they move against each other in nearly invisible movements. The result is a wearing down that can lead to the failure of the connection. One might say that our fretting can wear down our connection with God. It takes place almost unperceptively as we mentally return to issues that we are wrestling with – a nagging health concern, frustrated plans, challenges at work or thin finances. In response, David urges us to trust God and do good as we dwell in the land and practice faithfulness.
Sometimes the simplest advice is the best. Once we realize we’re fretting, we are to return to a place of trust in God. We are to keep doing good by speaking with wisdom and justice (vv. 27-29). We are to stay rooted where we are and make a friend of faithfulness. As we stay faithful, we’ll see that God hasn’t forgotten about us at all, as we sometimes fear. Often His timing is just different from ours. While we wait, we are to stay on guard against anger, paying attention to the way that fretting can lead us to lose our temper and lash out in unhealthy ways. David then invites us to delight in God by committing our future to him and waiting upon Him. As we do so, we will receive the desires of our hearts.
So how do we rekindle our trust? How do we delight in the Lord? We make Jesus our primary focus. We let scripture shape our thinking. We prayerfully consider God’s past faithfulness. We pursue meaningful work. We play and become present in the moments that are before us. We are reminded that the Lord helps and delivers those who take refuge in him (vs. 40) and we let the Spirit remind us of the deep, settled joy that comes from knowing Jesus as Lord of all creation and as our friend and companion on life’s journey. At its root, our hearts desire this connection above all else.
In the coming week fret not yourself so that you may delight greatly in the Lord! God bless you.
Dan joined the Cornerstone team in November 2018 as the Pastor of Missions. His focus is on empowering the church family to step beyond the boundaries of CCLB to declare the Good News, so that the Body of Christ might be established where it would not otherwise occur. In addition, Dan provides oversight for Cornerstone’s Care ministries.