“Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. 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! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.”
Our nation and society have set these past few days aside as a time which we call Thanksgiving, a holiday which focuses primarily on turkey and dressing, Mom’s famous mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, football and family, afternoon naps…and let’s not forget standing outside your favorite store at 4:00 in the morning waiting for the Black Friday sales. It’s called “Thanksgiving” mainly because President Abraham Lincoln formally declared the last Thursday of each November to be a national Thanksgiving Day, with Franklin Roosevelt later formalizing the fourth Thursday of November as the day of observation of this holiday. My family always takes some time on this day to think about all the blessings in our lives and be thankful for them. Many others do the same; a popular social media tradition is to list one thing for which one is thankful on each day throughout November. It’s good that we do this.
Christians should always keep God’s numerous blessings in mind and be thankful for them, if for no other reason than to avoid stress and burnout. During times of being stressed out and worried over things, it’s easy to forget that God ultimately provides and protects; this may lead the beginning of doubt over either God’s ability to care for us or His love for us. I believe this is why Jesus told us three times in the Sermon on the Mount to not worry (Matthew 6:25, 31, 34) and the Holy Spirit inspired the Old Testament psalmist to tell us three times in one psalm to not worry (Psalm 37:1, 7, 8). This particular psalm – Psalm 37 – tells us exactly how to avoid stress by recognizing how good God truly is.
First, we must trust in the Lord (v. 3). “Trust” here carries with it the idea of being on our face because we have no visible means of support; we cannot handle things on our own. Paul knew this (2 Corinthians 3:5; Ephesians 6:10; Philippians 4:13). Truly trusting in God means that Jesus is ALL we have and we are confident that He is more than enough.
We must also delight in the Lord (v. 4). He is our ultimate source of joy (Philippians 4:4). Nothing ever begins to compare to the joy we have in Him. Isaiah speaks of those who “delight to know (God’s) ways” and “take delight in approaching God” (Isaiah 58:2). Does that describe you and me?
Our ways must also be committed to the Lord (v. 5). “Way” refers to our habits, lifestyles and routines…our well-traveled path of life. “Commit” literally means to roll off the burden, “casting all your cares upon Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). We must take to heart what God has said: “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). When we are really stressed and worried (and think we’re going crazy), there really is a sense in which we need to be committed…the Psalm 37:5 sense. We must be committed to God because there is grace and mercy to be found in Him (Hebrews 4:16).
Finally, we must rest in the Lord (v. 7). In other words, we must have the quiet, victorious confidence that God is in control, that He cares and everything will work together for good (Romans 8:28). That cannot happen until we first trust, delight and commit to Him.