If worrying were a field of study, I would have received an honorary doctorate by now. I have been perfecting the art of worrying as long as I can remember. I packed emergency survival kits for small outings by day and planned elaborate fire escape routes for various scenarios by night. When my wild and crazy Grandmother took her five grandchildren on a trip to Niagra Falls, I spent the entire trip worrying my baby sister would plummet down. What can I say, I am a natural.
While not everyone is as skilled in the art of catastrophic thinking, every human experiences worry to some degree. Whether our fears our highly implausible or rather probable, worry wearies our hearts and pulls us away from the present and into the unknown future.
When worries begin to decimate the peace Christ has purchased for me at a great cost, I camp out in Psalm 37. The word translated fret, laced throughout the Psalm, literally means to kindle a fire. Those of us skilled at worrying are fully aware that passing sparks and embers of worry, if not snuffed out and suffocated quickly, will indeed light a wildfire in the soul.
The Psalmist calls us to dwell in the present reality, whatever that may be. He bids us to lay off the fretting and lean into trusting the Lord. Rather than imagining scenarios (most of which will not happen), he invites us to keep ourselves busy by doing tangible good in our current circumstances.
Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself 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 bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. 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 37:3-7.
The phrase befriend faithfulness can be translated, “Feed on truth” or “Feed on faithfulness.” Rather than letting uncertain fears be our food, we are called to feed on the certain truths of God’s word. Claim His promises and His character rather than allowing fear to claim your peace.
The Hebrew word translated dwell in this psalm is the Old Testament equivalent to the Greek word meno in the New Testament. Both carry the same range of meaning: dwell in, settle down into, abide in, take permanent lodging and abode within.
Roll around in the field of God’s faithfulness. Nestle down into the now in which God has providentially placed you.
The phrase “Commit your way to the Lord” literally means to roll your burden unto Him. Live with Him and by His provision today and, quite literally, cast your fears of the future to the One who knows no present, past or future.
As we walk into a new week, may we be those who enjoy safe pasture because of His presence. May we feed on His faithfulness rather than our fears.
Beneath His Staff
Precipices on every side,
Surroundings stir up fear;
Shivering, I spot the staff.
The Shepherd, He is near.
Better to be by His side
Even in a dangerous place
Than to be in meadow fair,
Without His gentle face.
Look to me, not round about
At every potential snare.
I, your Skilled Shepherd,
Go with you everywhere.
I shall lead, protect and feed,
So be still, my shaking sheep.
No matter the circumstance,
In perfect peace you may sleep.
Roll around in my goodness,
For fretting fractures the soul.
Come hide here under my staff,
For I shall surely keep you whole.