February 15

“Fret not thyself.” Psalm 37:1

Do not get into a perilous heat about things. If ever heat were justified, it was surely justified in the circumstances outlined in the Psalm. Evil-doers were moving about clothed in purple and fine linen, and faring sumptuously every day. “Workers of iniquity” were climbing into the supreme places of power, and were tyrannizing their less fortunate brethren. Sinful men and women were stalking through the land in the pride of life and basking in the light and comfort of great prosperity, and good men were becoming heated and fretful.

“Fret not thyself.” Do not get unduly heated! Keep cool! Even in a good cause, fretfulness is not a wise help-meet. Fretting only heats the bearings; it does not generate the steam. It is no help to a train for the axles to get hot; their heat is only a hindrance. When the axles get heated, it is because of unnecessary friction; dry surfaces are grinding together, which ought to be kept in smooth co-operation by a delicate cushion of oil. . . . Friction begets heat; and with the heat, most dangerous conditions are created. (Streams in the Desert)

The lowest point in my life centered on the actions of another individual and my reaction to them. My inability to manage the other’s behavior and resulting pervasive helplessness conspired to paralyze and erased any latent hope to rise above until a wise old sage jerked me to attention. He told me in no uncertain terms that we cannot control the actions of anyone but ourselves. His stern advise was to reject paralysis of worrying about what is out of my control, and instead focus my energy and attention on what can change, namely myself. Although I wasn’t exactly keen on hearing it at the time, his stern counsel arrested my downward spiral and corrected course, tacking and jibing toward hope and a future.

Commit what you cannot change to Sovereign God, then endeavor rigorously to bring yourself into step with the Spirit. Each time you are tempted to fret, admit it to the Father, then immediately turn your attention back to something within your power to improve. Worry is destructive and futile; trust is liberating.

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