Once again, a friend of mine chided me for fretting as I raged about the pervasive evil I saw in the world today.
“This is not your circus,” my friend said. “These are not your monkeys.”
All of these circumstances in the world were beyond my control and out of the realm of my influence. Where was the God of Justice?
I had become stuck in a rut of fretting. A rut rooted in the fear of the future that I had dug through anxiety and worry.
Living in Wisconsin, I’m familiar with ruts. Our wheels spin on snowy roads and create furrows that refuse to disappear until the snow melts. Ruts become dangerous obstacles that can easily throw us off course.
My pattern of fretting had derailed me. It distracted me from God’s purpose and robbed me of peace. I listened to the voices of the world yammering in my ears and forgot to listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit. But God reminded me, “Do not fret—it leads only to evil” (Psalm 37:8 NIV).
I needed a course correction. How could I avoid the rut of fretting and restore peace?
God offered me a roadmap to peace by following seven principles from Psalm 37.
- Do not fret. According to Scripture, fretting leads only to evil. If I want to follow Jesus and turn away from evil, I need to steer clear of the habitual patterns of agitation and anger that deepen the rut of fretting. Jesus has called me to walk in righteousness and make right choices through faith in him. “And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever” (Isaiah 32:17 NLT).
2. Trust in the Lord. God is faithful and trustworthy even when I don’t understand his plan. My fears and anxiety do not change who he is. They only rob me of my ability to see him as he is—my loving Father who is constant in his care for me. Sometimes trust is a choice. “But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you” (Psalm 56:3 NLT).
3. Do good. In spite of the evil churning around me, God’s Word tells me to “never get tired of doing good” (Gal 6:10 NLT). Even in the face of adversity, I’m called to love and serve others in humility. He also commands me to pray for my enemies and those who may do me harm.
4. Delight in the Lord. To delight in the Lord, I must focus on who God is, on his power and majesty. When my eyes are turned toward the Lord, I can’t focus on myself, my circumstances, and those situations that rob my peace. Delighting in the Lord comes with a promise. “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him” (Psalm 37:23 NIV).
5. Commit my way to the Lord. God is the one who will order my steps. My days are in his hands. Even when the evil is personal or I feel betrayed, God is the one who will vindicate me.“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT).
6. Be still before the Lord. Sometimes I’m so busy grumbling and complaining that I neglect to listen. I’ve discovered that when I’m quiet and still, I’m more apt to hear the voice of the Lord. His voice and his presence will restore my peace by reminding me of who he is. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NIV).
7. Wait patiently for him. Patience is not my virtue. I want to rush God, especially when he takes longer to answer my prayers than I would like. But I need to remember God is not finished yet. “For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Isaiah 30:18 NIV).
Finally, brothers and sisters, 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 4:8 NIV).
What ruts of fretting rob your peace?