“Do not fret–it leads only to evil”
Fretwork is wood cut with a fretsaw into ornamental designs. Essentially it is cutting holes in a piece of wood. This is what fretting does to our faith – it cuts holes in it by wearing away and eroding it.
Three times in the first eight verses of the Psalm we are counselled not to fret. One of the reasons given is that ‘it leads only to evil.’ Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount also challenged us ‘Not to worry.’
Now to decide not to do something may be good, but not always helpful. It is rather like focussing on not thinking of the word hippopotamus for five minutes. Generally it cannot be done. A better way is to decide against something unhelpful in favour of something helpful. In other words, replace the bad with the good.
Jesus taught us to both learn of God from nature and to seek His Kingdom and His righteousness. The Psalmist has done much the same thing in these eight verses by teaching us rather to,
- Trust in the Lord and do good
- Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart
- Commit your way to the Lord
- Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him
Paul also encourages us to,
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:4-8)
When God tell us to avoid certain actions it is because they are unhelpful, unhealthy and often harmful to us or to others. They also take away our focus on, or involvement in, something better. Changing our actions and reactions takes intention, prayer and practice – helped enormously by the knowledge that the Holy Spirit is working within us to help us grow and develop. The initiative will have come from Him.
If we are to grow in our relationship and life with God then we need to develop the habit of believing in His love and trusting Him. It is a part of the journey towards wholeness. That does not mean that He will always do everything the way that we would like Him to – but it does mean that He will never abandon or forget us.
The opposite of fretting is a quiet trust in God – that whatever happens He will always be in control and will love us and carry us through to our eternal home with Him.
Turn your fretting into meditation! Take a positive scripture and ‘worry’ it to get more and more from it.
Father God, please forgive me when my feelings and expressions are negative. Help me to walk in the knowledge of Your presence and love for me. May that heal and influence my actions and feelings. Amen.