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Saturday, December 02, 2017

An All-Too-Common Problem

Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!”

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way.”

“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.”

Three times in eight verses David reminds his readers not to get worked up over the apparent success of people who make their own way in life by taking moral shortcuts.

If the righteous need this many reminders, fretting must be a very common problem, right?

Right.

Fret Not Enviously

“Be not envious,” he says. That very tempting method of reporting my income is dishonest; never mind that my co-worker is able to hold onto more of his than I am by using it every year. Fret not. It’ll catch up with him, and if it doesn’t, God will. There’s a reason envy is one of the “seven deadlies”.

That promotion you were passed over for because you wouldn’t play politics like the rest of them? Fret not. The Lord knows, and an honest man can look at himself in the mirror without flinching in the morning.

That family down the street that vacations in Vegas three and four times a year when you can’t afford Family Camp for six? Fret not. Their mortgage is underwater, their marriage is on the rocks, they’re up to their eye sockets in debt and they both hate their jobs.

Fret not enviously.

Fret Not Impatiently

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.”

Yes, I know it’s been ten years and your neighbor has never been caught cheating yet. Be patient. Sometimes it’s not over until it’s … well … literally over.

Yes, that rate of interest you’re paying is usurious; and no, the fact that it’s “company policy” and “the competition is doing it too” doesn’t justify it. But if you have to pay it for the rest of your life, will the Lord still be on his throne?

I thought so …

Fret Not Angrily

“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!” The day of the wicked is coming, and it’s the Lord’s job to see it happens, not mine. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.

Why is it the girls you like are always drawn to the “bad boys”? What sense does it make that so many women seem to like being mistreated? It’s incredibly frustrating. Maybe you could learn a few moves from those guys, just toned down a bit so they don’t quite cross that moral line in the sand …

Maybe.

Or just maybe is there a chance the Lord is preserving you from a major relationship disaster? Could it be that the sort of woman who is drawn to “bad” might just make a truly terrible wife and mother — and yes, that’s true even when she goes to church every Sunday and claims to be saved.

The Wicked Will Be No More

The injustices of this world do not last forever, David reminds us:
“In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.”
Some would say that depends how you define “little”. Usually it’s a good deal longer than we’d like.

In the meantime, fretting is not something that happens to you, it’s something you choose: “Fret not yourself.” It would seem at least theoretically possible to reject the impulse to anxiety provided we keep reminding ourselves, as David did, that however tempting a moral shortcut may appear today, they never end well.

That’s frequently the case in this life. It’s 100% true in the next.

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