Scripture is deep. I wish I had a better way of saying that, but there you go. There is no end to the treasures to be found within the pages. Perhaps more importantly, there is no end to the ways that God will speak to us. One moment, one verse, one eye-opening lesson. The next moment, same verse, different lesson.
I have long loved Psalm 37:7-8 –
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm. (NKJV)
As we use “worry” and “fret” interchangeably in the impreciseness that is English, I have assumed that these verses address worry. Don’t worry about what other people are getting. Give things up to God. Wait for Him to act; He’ll always take care of you. Let anger and worry go because they only hurt you.
All of that is true. Last week, however, I decided to look up the original word for “fret.” There are four different Hebrew words:
Charah: used in Psalm 37:7-8. To blaze up, of anger, zeal, jealousy; be angry, burn, be displeased; earnestly, fret self, grieve, be (wax) hot, be incensed, kindle; very, be wroth.
Pecthetheth: a boring or eating out, hole, hollow. (Refers to a leprous decay in a garment).
Qatsaph: to be displeased, be angry, fret oneself, be wroth; to be full of wrath, to be furious; to provoke to wrath or anger; to put oneself in a rage, anger oneself.
Ra’am: to thunder; to make the sound of thunder, thunder; to rage.
Along with several Greek equivalents:
Athymeo: to be disheartened, dispirited, broken in spirit.
Ekkaio: to burn out, to set on fire, to be kindled, to burn.
Lypeo: to make sorrowful; to affect with sadness, cause grief, to throw into sorrow; to grieve, offend.
Merimnao: to be anxious; to be troubled with cares; to care for, look out for (a thing); to seek to promote one’s interests; caring or providing for.
(This list of Greek equivalents is not exhaustive. For more information, check out StudyLight).
As I pondered these words, it occurred to me that fretting is the ugly offspring of worry. I have yet to meet someone who struggles with anxiety who doesn’t also struggle with anger. The two are logical bedmates. When you are worried that nobody else is looking out for you, it’s natural to get angry. It makes sense to blaze wit bitterness. You’re trying to protect yourself, trying to prepare for every possible outcome. As you are seeking to promote your own interests, you don’t really have energy to promote anyone else’s, and, if they ask you to, you resent that. They have added to your burdens.
Don’t fret – don’t lash out. Don’t thunder. Don’t let worry eat a hole in you. Don’t rage. Don’t be offended.
All this anger stems from anxiety, and that anxiety is rooted in a disheartened, broken spirit.
I know this in my bones. When my husband leaves his things lying around, I get irritated. I snap at him. I make it a bigger deal than it needs to be – because I am afraid that he doesn’t listen to me. I am afraid that he doesn’t think I matter. I apply to his actions a meaning that isn’t there, because of past hurts that have torn my heart to pieces.
Brokenness to anxiety to anger.
Look what Jesus said He came to do:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. – Luke 4:18-19, quoting Isaiah 61:1-2 (NKJV)
A disheartened, broken spirit results in the oppression of anxiety which leads to the fires of barely controlled anger. Jesus came to set us free from that! He came to mend all the broken places, patch the holes in our hearts, pour into us real love and hope. My friend, let’s allow Him to do that work, right now. This day. This moment.
Let’s allow Him to begin the process of transforming our lives. I don’t know about you, but I am weary of the past dictating the present. I don’t have energy to plan for every outcome. I don’t want to argue with everyone about stupid things. What I want is trust that God has my best interests at heart, that He will promote them and that I can rest in His continual care. Imagine the freedom! Imagine the peace! Whatever is happening with other people, whatever they might be getting, I want to be assured that it’s all good for me.
I want to live in the riches of His grace, reject going back to prison, live wide-eyed in the world, dance in freedom and embrace His favor. I want that for you, too!
This post also appeared on the Far East Broadcasting Company Gospel Blog on March 9, 2014.