Sun shining through the clouds

Fret Not (Part 5)

How can we live fret-free in a world full of turmoil and trouble, with a heart of love, while demonstrating true humility? Psalm 37 answers this question by coaching us to look ahead (which I covered in my previous blog), keep looking up, and stay productive.

When we look ahead, we see a day of true justice dawning just over the horizon of our present situations. With hearts and minds stayed on Christ, we anticipate the time of His glorious return and rejoice in His providential care until that day comes.

Looking up does not clash with our ability to look ahead. By looking ahead, we view the eternal Kingdom which is the home for which we are destined. To look up requires an ability to see the Lord of Heaven sitting on His throne --- the Omniscient, Supreme, Sovereign, Immutable, Holy God who is above all created things. He is in control of our past, present and future. When we comprehend His majesty, what can compare to Him and what army can overthrow Him? It is no wonder then, that the Apostle Paul could say with confidence these words from Romans 8:31-39 (ESV):

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died --- more than that, who was raised --- who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For Your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.'

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Here, in the context of our present troubles, Scripture prepares us to thrive in suffering, not just merely survive. I have found, however, that the longer I go without cultivating time to be renewed and refreshed in His Word, the more I see the ability to keep looking up diminish. Predicaments have an uncanny way of slinking in from the periphery to obscure vision. We fight against an enemy who seeks to disparage and destroy the Godly in the world. And while we battle our common foe, we must not do so while fretting. Psalm 37 teaches us that we combat our adversary by:

Trusting in the Lord (Psalm 37:3)
We cultivate faithfulness by staying close to Him. To whom else can we run? There is no one but the Lord Almighty --- He is trustworthy.

Delighting in the Lord (Psalm 37:4)
Make the Lord your joy. Sing your song in the night and let true worship arise from a heart at peace in the darkest storm. His joy will be our strength.

Committing our way to the Lord (Psalm 37:5)
Allow the Lord to take control. He cares deeply for His children, and we can place all of our concerns in His hands (1 Peter 5:7).

In the book, To End All Wars: A True Story about the Will to Survive and the Courage to Forgive, Ernest Gordon wrote about his experience in a Japanese camp for prisoners of war. As the conditions worsened and the men lost all hope, a "law of the jungle" mentality pervaded the camp. Each one looked out only for themselves and would ignore the plight of the weak and dying. At its worst, the camp was a living hell --- until stories of self-sacrifice began to circulate among the prisoners.

One such story was of a soldier named Angus McGillvray. Angus' friend became deathly ill and was sure to die. Angus took it upon himself to change the narrative of his friend's life. When Angus received his daily ration of food, he subtly moved it into his friend's bowl. He would find a way to obtain medicine and extra nutrition to nourish and heal his friend while denying himself any of these same things. When his friend got better, Angus collapsed and died. Yet, with his death, he sparked a revival in this "camp of death."

The sacrifice of Angus impacted Ernest and drove him to re-engage with the deep truths of his faith. He discovered that God had called him to seek a life of sacrificial love and service in the unlikeliest of places. Others also began to question the meaning of life and asked Ernest to teach them. Ernest resolved to discover the person of Jesus and then introduce Him to his fellow prisoners. Slowly the men began to change, though the conditions remained unchanged. Ernest described it this way:

"We stopped complaining about our own plight. Faith would not save us from it, but it would take us through it. Suffering no longer locked us up in the prison house of our self-pity but brought us into what Albert Schweitzer called the fellowship of those who bear the mark of pain."1

May we also learn to trust and delight in Jesus more as we commit our lives to Him. May we see through the mire of our darkest hour the life that awaits us, and look up to see the ‘Lord of Life' standing with us in our suffering. Let the promise of Psalm 37:6 bring you comfort and peace in the waiting:

"He will bring forth your righteousness like the dawn,
your justice like the noonday sun" (BSB).

sig floyd

Floyd A. Brobbel
Chief Executive Officer
The Voice of the Martyrs Canada Inc.

1 Gordon, Ernest. To End All Wars. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI (Kobo version)

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