As I write today’s post, many in North Alabama are fretting about the weather. Storms are brewing. A tornado watch has been posted. Schools are closed. The Governor has declared a state of emergency. I am all for being weather aware and prepared to seek shelter if the situation warrants it. I know where my Silver Fox and I will go if the weather alert app on my phone tells us to go to our safe place. And, furthermore, I am praying for protection for our children, grandchildren and loved ones within the threat areas. But, I am making a conscious effort to trust God and FRET NOT!!
In addition to weather predictions, many people in the United States and even the world have been fretting mightily over political issues in recent months. I refuse to jump into the fray. I see unfortunate words and regrettable actions swirling from both major parties in Congress. I have cringed during the evening news and tried changing channels, only to find more despicable rhetoric with an opposite spin. I confess to having my own opinions on many of the issues, and I will continue to make my statements by voting in every election. But, from now on, I will try extremely hard to FRET NOT. And, then yesterday the U.S. attacked Syria. Oh my. Fret not . . . fret not . . . .
What IS fretting anyway? According to Dictionary.com, to fret is 1) “to feel or express worry, annoyance, discontent” 2) “to cause corrosion or to gnaw into something” 3) “to become eaten, worn or corroded” and 4) “to move in agitation or commotion.” God tells us to refrain from fretting, DO NOT FRET.
I must credit long-time friend and God-anointed evangelist Junior Hill from Hartselle for putting this admonition in my heart. Recently, our First Baptist Athens choir was asked to sing at Greenbriar Baptist in Madison County, and Brother Junior (as he has been called for many years) was the preacher. His text was Psalm 37:1-4, and I have been pondering it ever since that night. Here is the passage in the English Standard Version:
1 Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
2 For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.
3 Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord,
and He will give you the desires of your heart.
According to God’s Word in verse 2, what will happen to the evildoers and wrongdoers we might be fretting about? Soon, they will “fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.” And, while we’re waiting for that fading and withering to take place, what are the positive imperatives in verses 3 and 4? Trust in the Lord, do good, dwell in the land, befriend faithfulness and delight yourself in the Lord. It seems to me that if we’re carrying out those positive marching orders, we will have much less time to fret.
Brother Junior told us that there are 3 negative effects when Christians fret. First, our own inner spirit is agitated and disturbed. The joy we find in ministry is diminished, and our worship becomes distracted and self-focused, rather than God-focused. Second, our fretting effects our fellow brothers and sisters within the Body of Christ. Like a bad apple in a basket, it subtly causes corrosion within the church. Instead of having an influence for good, we are causing fellow believers to find the bad, when maybe they had not wanted or needed to see it in the past. And third, when a Christian frets, it is confusing to unbelievers and those outside the church. After all, aren’t we the ones who possess “peace that passes all understanding?” (Philippians 4:7) Haven’t we been clearly directed to “be anxious for nothing?” (Philippians 4:6) Do we truly believe that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble?” (Psalm 46:1) Does the unbelieving world watch as we “cast all our cares on Him, because He cares for us?” (1 Peter 5:7)
I don’t want my inner spirit to be troubled. I don’t want to stir up negativity among my fellow believers, but most of all, I WANT unbelievers to watch as I claim the promises in God’s Word and put my faith into action. I want them to desire the peace, the lack of anxiety and the total trust in God that followers of Christ have within their possession. Who’s with me?
A few verses further down in Psalm 37:
7 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!
8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.