Fret Not Day 1 – “You Worry Too Much”
“Fret not yourselves.” (Psalm 37:1, ESV)
“You worry too much.”
This was my daughter’s response to my voicing a concern over my youngest son’s driving a friend home in the snow. Said friend lives twenty minutes away… down a busy highway… and a backroad. Plus, it was dark. And did I mention it was snowing heavily?
“He doesn’t have that much experience driving in the snow.”
My mind was going places it didn’t need to go, and my concerns (my fretting) were moving from my mind and spilling out of my mouth. That’s when she told me, “You worry too much.” And she’s right. I tend to fret about a lot of things, but that’s because there truly seems to be so much to fret about some days! We fret about family. We fret about finances. We fret about the future. We fret about a lot of things that never even come to fruition. But what does God say? Fret not.
While the Psalm writer appears to be delivering this mandate to those who were tempted to fret over the seemingly unfair prosperity of evildoers, I believe we can take this directive to heart for ourselves in any situation where we are tempted to become anxious. Coupled with many other Scriptures warning against worry, it’s quite clear that God does not want His children in this unsettled state.
As I have read and re-read this psalm many times, I have loved how God doesn’t just give us the “DO NOT.” In His kindness, He offers us the “DO” as well—the things we can do to overcome our fretting. He gives us eight “dos,” in fact—eight habits we can cultivate that will eliminate our fretting, culminating, finally, in peace.
But first, what does it actually mean to fret? After all, it’s not a word we use every day. According to a Hebrew dictionary, in this context, the word fret means “to be hot; to be angry; to burn from within; to be kindled in jealousy against.” There must have been those in David’s audience who were burning with anger and jealousy over the wicked’s prosperity while they, the righteous, were suffering. (The psalmist continues his writing, calling attention throughout the psalm to the end of the wicked versus that of the righteous in order to appease his audience.)
While context is always key, I couldn’t help but be struck by the dictionary definition of the word fret. It fits so well with the generic idea of fretting apart from a specific context. Read how the Oxford Dictionary defines the word: “to be constantly or visibly worried or anxious; to gradually wear away (something) by rubbing or gnawing; to form (a channel or passage) by rubbing or wearing away.”
To gradually wear away something. This strikes me as so accurate, because what does fretting wear away? Actually, it wears away all the steps God tells us to take in order to eliminate our fretting! Hardly paradoxical, is it? What are the eight directives we’re given to fight off our fretting? They’re found in verses 3-8:
- Trust in the Lord
- Do good
- Befriend (feed on the Lord’s) faithfulness
- Delight in the Lord
- Commit our way to the Lord
- Be still before the Lord
- Wait patiently for the Lord
- Refrain from anger
Turning to these practices as alternatives to fretting, I think, produces and displays a spirit of meekness, of humility. And verse 11 tells us there is blessing for the child of meekness who exchanges fretting for these actions. It’s the blessing of peace.
Worry wears away our faith, our trust in Him, our service for Him, our confidence in His character, our delight in Him, our resolve to commit our way to Him, our ability to be still in His presence, and our patience while we wait on Him. Ultimately, it creates chaos in our soul and destroys our peace.
So, dear reader, let us not wear away our faith by fretting, but instead seek to adopt these eight steps the Spirit of God directed David to share with us that we might enjoy a settled spirit within, full of His peace.
Be blessed today!