Fret Not Yourself
“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!” Psalm 37:7 (ESV)
I tried distracting myself by flipping through an old magazine in the orthodontist’s waiting room. However, I quickly realized that no meatloaf recipe, article on how to organize my bathroom closet, or the latest political news from around the world could keep my heart from sinking and my mind from growing restless.
An acquaintance from church was spreading lies about a family member of mine as if they were fact. However, I knew the truth. The story being told was not just slightly off base; it was a complete and utter lie with not even a shred of truth to it. I was angry, anxious and growing more fearful by the moment that some people — who might not know my relative well — would believe the false narrative.
My mind began to concoct all sorts of short speeches and clever comebacks I might give if I happened to speak with anyone who was on the receiving end of the untruths. I even devised a plan to head off the lies at the pass by calling some friends from church whom I thought might have heard the story.
However, before I could pick up my phone, into my mind popped a piece of advice my spiritual mentor — who had first introduced me to the gospel in high school — had repeated to me numerous times: Remember, the truth always wins out, and it is God’s job to protect your reputation. It is your job to stop worrying and trust Him with the outcome.
Oh, how this is easier said than done! I so badly wanted to correct the errors and protect the name of my loved one and — most importantly — zip the lips of the one spreading lies!
However, today’s key verse, Psalm 37:7, echoes what my mentor stated was the best approach: “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!”
Fret not yourself. I just love that phrase!
Now, it isn’t one we might normally use in our modern, day-to-day conversations. We are more likely to say something along the lines of, “Don’t worry.” Or “Try to calm down.” But the advice of “Fret not yourself” shows a bit more vividly just what’s happening. We are the ones causing ourselves to fret, so perhaps we are the ones who can stop the fretting, too!
The word fret, first penned in the Hebrew language, means “to burn or to be kindled with anger.” When we allow our angry thoughts to become kindling, burning in our minds, they can soon spark angry actions we might regret. We may think we’re directing our fiery fury outward, but in fact, we are the ones who end up getting seared and scorched.
Instead, a different approach can bring about a better outcome when we aim to carefully follow the directive in the first part of the verse: Be still. Wait. Display patience — a quiet trust that God is in control. We can focus on controlling our anger and allow God to control the concerning situation, trusting Him with the outcome.
My mentor was right. The truth won out. My family member’s name was cleared, and the person spewing the lies did not succeed with their wicked schemes. On the contrary! She was the one who ended up looking both malicious and foolish.
If you’re worried or troubled today by another’s vengeful actions, don’t try to fix the outcome or control the situation. Trust God to move, and then give yourself a little three-word pep talk: Fret not yourself.
Lord, whenever I begin to feel anxiety rising up in me over the harmful words or actions of another, help me to stop. To pray. To trust in Your plan and leave the fretting behind. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 40:1, “I waited patiently for the Lord, and he turned to me and heard my cry for help.” (CSB)
Matthew 6:34, “Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (HCSB)
If you need to learn to stop anxiously fretting and trust God in faith instead, you might enjoy Karen Ehman’s newest women’s devotional book (co-authored with Ruth Schwenk), Settle My Soul: 100 Moments to Meet with Jesus.
Today Karen is giving away three copies of her new devotional, Settle My Soul: 100 Moments to Meet with Jesus, and also providing a place for you to share prayer requests about whatever is threatening to rattle your soul. Head to Karen’s Instagram to join in the conversation.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Think back on a time when you were troubled because you felt someone was succeeding in their wicked way. How could Psalm 37:7 have helped you handle that situation differently? How can it equip you for any future fretting that might come your way? Share your thoughts in the comments!
© 2019 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.