STRESSING OUT - Psalm 37:1
Updated: Jan 20
“Do not fret because of those who do evil, or be envious of those who do wrong,” (Psalm 37:1)
In England queueing can be a bit of a big deal. I suppose it goes along with the British sense of fair play. It’s not written anywhere, like a rule of how to do it; but you just know that if you are there in front of everyone else, you deserve to be served next. If not, then you wait your turn.
So I’m in a sandwich shop, admittedly in a world of my own, but as far as could be said I was adhering strictly to the unwritten rules of queueing. I believe the thought taking up most of my brain space was “remember it’s BMT not BLT;” when I was interrupted by a young guy talking at me in an aggressive manner. “Excuse me!!” he said angrily, “Don’t you know there’s other people in this queue?? You have just pushed in!!” All of this was news to me, as I was sure I had joined the back of the queue. Actually I have never pushed in front in a queue (apart from in a Sardinian bus station where the queuing system was every man for himself!). I couldn’t understand it. Well, this guy was obviously upset and I apologised and went in behind him, feeling really bad.
As I fell in behind the man, the lady behind me said, “Don’t worry, you were definitely here before us.” It was at this point I began to process what had just gone on, and I realised that I couldn’t have been behind one and in front of the other. This man had just intimidated me into thinking I’d pushed in, giving him the opportunity to queue jump. What an outrage!
Yes I know what you are thinking... this is hardly the crime of the century! Of course there are a lot of other worse things I could be talking about, but what I want to show you here is the act of intimidation. Bullies use this all the time, where they try to pressurise and dominate others in order to control them. I’m sure you know of people who use these tactics.
How do you respond when evil gets its way? When cheaters win, bullies intimidate and people get rich through the misfortune of others? You know, real life situations where those who succeed by using evil and get what they want. It can be stressful and overwhelming where we feel powerless to do anything about it. We want justice, but if we stand up to these people, the worry is that we won’t succeed against them. Some have decided that the only way to succeed is to use the same methods. Not so with God. He has an altogether different plan.
I love the first three words of this Psalm, “Do not fret.” The word fret carries the meaning of getting hot with stress and worry. Maybe you’ve experienced that feeling of deep concern, where you’re in conflict with someone who has wronged you, but you feel you’re up against unfair odds. Concern about what a bully might do or say next and how to respond can get us stressed out. Maybe the only way is to be like them? No. There is a reason why God says “Do not fret;” it all has to do with what God is going to do next.
Evil wants its own way, but when it comes into conflict with God’s way of doing things, evil doesn’t stand a chance. God’s starting point in dealing with evil begins by freeing ourselves from the doubt and worry that will try and eat away at our faith. We know that God is the King upon the throne and that there is none greater than Him. This is what prayer is all about. When we cry out to God and ask for His help in the battles we are facing, they then become His battles. The enemy doesn’t stand a chance!
Father God. I thank You that You want me to invite You into my troubles, to partner with You so that we can navigate through this difficulty together. Thank You that Your way of doing things brings freedom to those who are oppressed. I love Your ways Lord!
Paul Martin is the writer of two 40 day devotional for young people based on the Psalms called "Inspire. Devotions for busy youngsters." Each book also contains spaces for the reader to reflect and journal on what God is saying to them.
____________________ Picture of people inside a coffee shop by Matt Hoffman: Unsplash