Psalm 37:1-9

Do not fret because of the wicked; do not be envious of wrongdoers, for they will soon fade like the grass, and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will make your vindication shine like the light, and the justice of your cause like the noonday.

Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him; do not fret over those who prosper in their way, over those who carry out evil devices.

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret—it leads only to evil. For the wicked shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. Psalm 37:1-9

“Fret” is not a word that I often use. I doubt, in fact, that I have ever used it. It means to “be constantly or visibly worried or anxious.” It is derived from the Old English word fretan, “to eat up, to consume.” Three times in this Psalm we are told not to fret.

We are not to fret about wicked people or wrongdoers. They won’t win in the end.

We are not to fret about people who prosper by doing such evil or wrong things.

We are not to fret because it just makes us angry and eventually leads us to do evil as well.

Those are hard words to hear today as the Incitement to Fret industry seems to be working overtime. We are constantly assaulted by voices that find occasion to fret under every rock, behind every candidate, implicit in every doomsday report, over every tragedy.

Don’t fret. Easy to say, hard to do as a hurricane bears down on the eastern seaboard continuing the destruction it has already caused in places that seem so already over burdened.

My Grandma Fay was the consummate worrier. Worry was her constant companion. She worried about everything. She saw the black cloud in front of every silver lining. She worried about what it meant if she wasn’t worried about something. I remember talking to her about not worrying about things so much. It probably left her worrying about me.

The fact is, if we think that we are always the victims of everybody else’s evil schemes, if we think Candidate A or Candidate B is the golden key to make us great or the glue that makes us stronger together, we probably DO have a lot to fret about. Which is why God cautions us not to fret. What does God invite us to instead?

Trust in the Lord and do good. Take delight in the Lord, who always wins in the end and even wins in the middle if we slow down and notice. Commit our lives to the Lord’s care and keeping, where there are no term limits or back alley shenanigans. And if that doesn’t sound immediately hopeful enough to calm our worried minds, to be still before the Lord and wait patiently.

Notice also the promise in this psalm – Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Notice always that it doesn’t say that God will give us everything we desire; it says instead that God will give us the very desires for that which is truly good and satisfying. Which most likely is not getting everything we want.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, worry and anxiety can overwhelm us. They draw our attention away from all the good happening around us and all the good you call forth from us. Help us find that quiet place, that eye of the storm, where we are safe though the winds and seas rage about us. Draw our hearts to you. Give us the patience to wait and the courage to act. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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