Neither people nor machines run very well with sand in the gears nor when they're out of alignment. Recently the boots on the inner CV joint of our vehicle had torn and sand had gotten into one of the joints. The presence of these minute particles revealed friction and grinding. The only solution was to correct the problem with new parts. Fortunately for me it was covered by warranty.
So in life - we don't do well with "sand in the gears" or when we're out of alignment with God. However, we sometimes struggle grimly on, hoping the problems will go away. We should care for ourselves as we care for our machines: that is get the problem corrected. We can eliminate the "grinding" and correct the alignment so that we will run well for God.
Psalm 37 gives God's answer for "sand in the gears". All of us face frustrations, anxieties, injustices, misunderstandings - it's easy to begin to "fret" and to forget that we are living under God's care and that should lead us to a joy filled faith rather than frustration. This psalm lets us know what God thinks about fretting and gives us the answer to the problem. He tells us "do not fret."
We all have tendency to be unhappy over events in our lives. The specific problem mentioned in this psalm concerns the prosperity of the wicked. It bothered believers - caused them to "fret." Many other problems can result in our "fretting" - unpleasant encounters w/people at work or at church; family problems can irritate us. Or we can suffer the pain of poor health. It can be big things or smaller items - and we start to "fret."
To "fret" is to wear away by friction, injure by rubbing, corrode, agitate, vex, irritate. God's word says - "Do not fret" - literally - "heat not yourself." His word goes on to say "nor be envious" - which can be translated "nor glow with heat;" that is "don't get hot under the collar."
Many contrary circumstances can cause us to react that way if we fail to remember that we live under God's care. God says - "Don't fret!" If we do then we are sinning. It means we are not happy with events God allows or sends into our lives. We fret or worry because we are calculating without God. Oswald Chambers once asked - "Have you been bolstering up that stupid soul of yours with the idea that our circumstances are too much for God?"
God's reasons for not fretting:
the apparent prosperity of the wicked will last for only a short time so don't envy those who do wrong. It's a basic truth - God blesses the righteous and punishes the wicked. Never be deceived by momentary and fleeting circumstances. Keep the result in mind - look at the big picture;
fretting only causes harm - it doesn't solve anything, it only causes more problems: It has a physical emotional detriment - "sand in the gears" ruins the human engine. Unresolved conflict can cause emotional sickness. A negative attitude can be weariness to the bones. It limits our ability to help others. If our life is out of alignment we can't help others. Nursing our pet peeves ends up with us fretting;
God's Answer is found in Psalm 37:3-7 - get God's lubrication and alignment:
"trust in the Lord and do good" - believe that God and His purposes are right even when circumstances seem to indicate otherwise. It frees me to do the right things and let God look after the guy doing the wrong thing. Use your energy to do what's good and right;
"delight yourself in the Lord" - enjoy the Lord and His purposes. Develop a growing love and appreciation for His plans and purposes;
"commit your way unto the Lord and trust in Him" - make your plans and decisions under God's guidance;
"rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him" - Don't insist on your own timing, but wait for God's timing.
God's answer for fretting - He invites us to trust, to delight, to commit and to rest. When we do there will no longer be a desire to fret. On contrary the "sand will be out of our gears" and we will end up with a spirit of praise and thanksgiving.
Rev. Pastor Ted Goossen is pastor of the Anabaptist
Mennonite Christian Centre Fellowship at 328 Thompson Dr.