Better than Fretting! How to Stay Calm and Carry On, Part II

Yes, that’s a camel. I’ve never ridden one—elephant yes, camel no—but I’ve heard they can be stubborn and cantankerous. Friends living in the Middle East told me their kids’ school bus was delayed one day for what seemed like forever because a camel decided to park itself in the road and chill there for the afternoon. So the fact that such an animal will trust its handler and carry people and goods great distances is pretty amazing. In fact, one of the phrases we’ll look at as we finish our “better than fretting” list comes from the idea of a camel who, at the handler’s command, kneels like this one, leans to one side and lets its burden roll from its back.

Last week, we learned to replace fretting and fuming with the first four of seven new actions. In the face of opposition, evil, or chaos, Psalm 37:1-3 taught us to trust God, do good, dwell where He has us, and cultivate faithfulness. Psalm: 37:4-6 give us actions 5, 6, and 7 that are better than fretting:

Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.

5. Delight in the Lord – Delight is a word of joy and friendship, isn’t it? It’s children who, once this pandemic is over, rush to see all their friends. It’s ME getting to see all my friends again, and not on a Zoom call. It speaks of face-to-face, of hugs, and of laughter. Notice how in calling us to delight ourselves in the Lord, David mentions our hearts’ desires being met. This is not some kind of transactional relationship: I do what I’m supposed to do like read my Bible or give a certain amount of money, and then, God rewards me with what I want. No, this is more like what I’ve been watching all week as my daughter works on her best friend’s birthday gift: she’s taken the time to learn down to the minutest detail what delights her friend so that she can give a beautiful gift she will love. I have no doubt her friend will do the same thing in a few months. David is pointing to a life-giving relationship with the Lord built on mutual delight and communication. When we begin to relish our friendship with God made possible through Jesus, we grow in confidence that He listens not only to our troubles, but also to what delights us.

6. Commit – Surprise! This is where the camel shows up again. Remember our context: David has warned his listener not to waste time and energy fuming when evil and evildoers seem to win. Such fretting can make walking with integrity begin to feel downright burdensome. But that’s where God’s people have a great gift. When Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit [Hebrew galal, “to roll”] your way to the Lord,” God is giving us the invitation to roll the burden of making our way through this life onto Him. As the “Word Wealth” for commit in the New Spirit Filled Life Bible says, “The picture here is of a camel, burdened with a heavy load. When the load is to be removed, the camel kneels down, tilts far to one side, and the load rolls off.” We are not saying, “OK, Lord, I’m going to run harder in your name.” We are saying, “Lord, run the race with me but with you shouldering the load.” Then, we move into an even deeper place of trust, as our next, and final, “better than fretting” action invites.

7. Trust even more – I find it beautiful that David circles back to trust as a life-giving alternative to fretting and fuming. This time, though, he pairs it with a glimpse of the future for those who trust in the Lord: “Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday” (37:5b-6). We began our list with choosing to trust God despite what our circumstances and surroundings told us, but now, we see, by faith, an alternate ending to what looked like a bleak story. Instead of plodding alone under a burden, we roll our plans onto God and trust Him to lead the way. Instead of despairing as evil seems to win the day, we delight in God and trust Him to bring forth righteousness and justice in His perfect timing.

Though we may have started this series by fretting and fuming, we’ve progressed to hoping and believing, and in only six verses. I hope it has  whet your appetite to continue studying the remainder of Psalm 37. I do have one resource for you if you’d like a way to remember our seven “Better than Fretting!” actions. Head over to my Facebook page for a printable reminder you can keep in your Bible or post on your fridge. Then, next time you feel the urge to fret about the world, remind yourself you do have alternatives:

Photo by Isabella Jusková on Unsplash

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