As I look over some of the posts of this year that is quickly coming to a close…I see that many of my themes have been related to trust, waiting, contentment and even a desire to still the ever present assault on a mind that can easily be led down a path called worry.
Today I find myself feeling a stronger sense of peace than I have experienced in a long time…and I welcome it with outstretched arms…I welcome it because it comes not from any part of me but from a God that not only gives peace but GREAT peace.
A few weeks back, I found myself in the 37th Psalm and I stayed a while…I hope you don’t mind a little trip through this mighty psalm.
I love when the Word is filled with action and action words…or better yet my English teacher would say…VERBS!!! The interesting part is that many of these verbs are not the variety that would cause you to break a sweat…actually they might in a different way.
“Do not fret because of evil men or be envious (envy is the verb) of those who do wrong;
for they are like the grass they will soon wither, like the green plants they will soon die away.” verse 1, 2
“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.” verse 3
“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” verse 4
“Commit your ways to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” verses 5, 6
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him, do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” verse 7
“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath, do not fret–it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.” verses 8, 9
“Turn away from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever.” verse 27
“Wait for the Lord and keep his way,” verse 34a
In this psalm we are told to:
- Trust in the Lord and Trust in Him
- Do Good
- Delight ourselves in the Lord
- Commit our ways to the Lord
- Be still before the Lord
- Wait for the Lord and to wait patiently for Him
- Hope in the Lord
- Keep His ways
- Refrain from anger
- Turn from wrath
- Turn from evil
We are told NOT to:
- be envious
- fret (3 times)
Don’t you just love it when there are more things to do in the affirmative column than in the negative…I know I do! Interesting that most of the things that we are told to do are based on attaching that verb to the Lord…trust in the Lord, delight yourself in the Lord, commit your ways to the Lord, be still before the Lord, hope in the Lord…get the idea?!
fret (v): to devour
eat or gnaw into
to make by wearing away a substance
to cause to suffer emotional strain
worry or become irritated
fret (n) the action of wearing away
frets (plural) worn spot
David uses the word fret three times in this psalm. From the above definition, it would stand to reason that the act of fretting will impact our ability to trust and rest in the Lord. To fret is to essentially allow our minds to dwell on that which is not focused on God. To fret is the opposite of trusting, committing, being still, and on down the list. When we allow ourselves to be consumed by fretful thoughts or fears it causes our trust, faith and hope to develop a worn spot due to corrosion.
I don’t want to have any worn spots in my faith in my Deliverer…my Savior…my Friend…my Refuge…my Redeemer…my Hiding Place…my Wonderful Counselor…I want to rest in all that He is and all I know Him to be.
Mark Buchanan in his wonderful book The Holy Wild (which is all about resting in the character of God) gives a powerful illustration of discovering a family of snakes in his family’s basement and the fear and panic that ensued. Although the snakes were one by one removed they left in their place unrest despite having been a place that possessed a comfortable bed to sleep upon during long hot summers. Mark Buchanan writes:
“The funny thing is, the bed hadn’t changed at all. It’s just as sturdy, just as comfortable. It can hold my weight, soothe my soreness. What has changed is my experience. I now harbor a suspicion that dread things lurk beneath. And so I approach the bed with a guardedness that I won’t let drop…I rest where I can trust. I rest on the bed that I’m assured won’t buckle beneath my weight, in the room where I’m confident I won’t be left vulnerable to enemies and predators…if I lack trust, I may sleep in the house or the room or the bed–but I won’t really rest there. I’ll do it out of sheer exhaustion, maybe, but not out of trust. I’ll be fitful and anxious, always checking my back, tense and clenching, a hair trigger on my reflexes. My point: How I think about the bed determines whether or not I rest in it.”
I couldn’t have said it any better…a place of rest has become a place where only fretful sleep will occur.
It can be a bit daunting to listen to what David challenges us as believers to do…actually he calls us by many names…righteous, meek, blameless, upright, the just, faithful ones…that’s who we are called to be…we are not called to be the fretful, the worrier, the anxious, the unbelieving, the mistrusting…
There have been days in the not so distant past where a seemingly trivial occurrence would trigger a wave of remembrance of a very life shaking time in my life. It would feel as though I was reliving the events all over again with such clarity and freshness…it robbed my day of peace and definitely my nights of sleep. It was difficult to rest during those times…we’ve all had them to a certain extent. But I am learning and have learned that these are the times I definitely need to trust in who God is…He is absolute and never changing despite my rapidly changing life. Fret has to be swallowed up by trust.
Then just when we thing that we are doing all the heavy lifting…David reminds us of all that the Lord is doing on our behalf regardless of the battle that is being levied against us. Check out God’s verbs…
“…and he will give you the desires of your heart.” verse 4b
“He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” verse 6
“…but those that hope in the Lord will inherit the land.” verse 9
“But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.” verse 11
“…but the Lord upholds the righteous.” verse 17b
“The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever.” verse 18
“If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” verse 24
“For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones.” verse 28
The first three words of Psalm 37 tell us “do not fret because of evil men” and the last lines of this psalm tell us why it is futile to wear a worry patch in our lives:
“The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is a stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; the delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.”
Lord thank you that you have given us everything for life and godliness through your divine nature and because of this we can rest fully in You and not this harsh world. Help us to be people of peace and rest…not only in our own private worlds but may we speak words that will bring rest to others and not cause their hope to fray. As always, I thank You for Your Word and thank You for the fullness of Who You Are. Amen!
May you experience great peace,