How would you define the word “fret”? Do you think it is closer to feeling angry or to being worried? The dictionary defines it as “vexed, uneasy, troubled or agitated.” When you hear the phrases, “I’m losing sleep over this” or “She is in quite a dither”, a simpler way to express those ideas could be to use the word fret. It isn’t a word that you probably hear or say very often, but it does describe a condition that most people experience more frequently than they would like to admit. Uncertainty, envy, disappointment, delays, and all sorts of unexpected circumstances and events can contribute to this temptation to fret, to fuss, to become annoyed, or to even obsess about a rather inconsequential matter.
When you enter into the passion of one of the wisdom psalms, it can be surprising to discover what practical advice there is right along with the praise and adoration of the Lord. One of the interesting features of Hebrew poetry is that there are often parallel phases that repeat the same idea in different words or contrasting ideas that are equally important. It’s a strategy that would have encouraged as well as instructed the Israelites as they tried to grasp what it meant to know and to trust in God. For example, in the opening 8 verses of Psalm 37, David repeats one phrase 3 times – “Do not fret.” The psalmist also gives some clues as to the possible reasons for feeling troubled – envy, impatience, and comparison. Discovering what is behind the temptation to fret can be challenging but also an extremely helpful thing to do.
Those same songs of praise and petition that were memorized and valued so long ago, have wisdom that reaches down into the hearts of Christ followers even to this day. “Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust Him, and He will help you.” (Psalm 37: 3) A simple yet profound solution to fretting!