Don’t fret. Sounds easy if you just say it like that, but if you are like me, you would probably be eligible for an award for fret. It is easy to fill the mind with anxious thoughts about anything at all – take me, then add my children, my sleep, my church, my work, my world – we will face another 9/11? Before long I have a mind swirling with thoughts, questions, longings and I am stuck. How do I not fret? Is David the Psalmist for real?
The first words of his Psalm 37 is “do not fret”. I am wired to fret – I find myself doing it when I am not even trying – it happens serendipitously and how I wish it wouldn’t. So he repeats it twice – just in case you missed it – did you hear him? What are we to do instead?
If you read the first 9 verses of this Psalm, David provides us with some nuggets to fill our minds as we empty it of fret. We can trust in the Lord (v3,5), take delight in the Lord (v 4), commit our way to the Lord (v 5), be still before the Lord and wait patiently (v 7) and hope in the Lord (v 9).
Delighting is really the opposite to fret. I spent a year recently thinking about what it means to delight in the Lord and it was life changing. There is so much about God that is amazing, wondrous and good. Reminding myself of what I know to be true about God leaves little room in my mind for fret.
If you think you are eligible for an award for fret, spend time immersing yourself in this Psalm read it, ponder it, think about it, ask questions about it, talk with your friends about it and use these words to pray – for yourself and others.
David makes the point that our fret leads only to evil – often anger (v 8). The challenge is to be different. There is something counter-cultural about David’s challenge to God’s people. Life can be murky, difficult and hard. We will all face times we wish would go away and vanish. The challenge here is to be still and wait, be patient and continue to trust and delight. I am not telling you this is easy. It isn’t. However, it is worthwhile. Next time you feel that anxious thought entering your mind, you can tell it to stop, remember, don’t fret but….
Thanks so much for this post. I too am eligible for a Fret Award – at least once a month! I totally agree that the Psalms are one of our best Biblical resources for dealing with fretting & anxiety. I think that’s because David knew what it was to be anxious (to put it mildly!) but he also knew his God!
His approach seemed to be to reflect, meditate and preach to himself all that he knew about the character of God. When I remind myself of the true character of God, from the Scriptures, then I have something solid and true on which to focus my swirling thoughts, something to trust & delight in, something to preach to myself and to shape my prayers around.
So, in Psalm 34 David reminds himself, and me, that God hears & answers me, he delivers, saves, is close and redeems. He is our refuge, in him we lack nothing, he is good and his eyes are on us. Yes, it’s certainly not easy, but it’s honouring to God when the way I live my life reflects his revealed character & transforms my life.
Thank you Alison, you are indeed a wise woman!
What a good idea- to spend a year thinking about how to delight in the Lord. That might help a constant fretter like me, too!
Thanks for this post Sarah.