Psalm 37:1-2 “Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.”
Considering those evil men (and women) in our lives…There is that brand of evil which is not “run-of-the-mill,” but comes from people who were once considered close friends, even those who shared common faith in Jesus Christ. Especially blistering! Like Psalm 55:12-14 says, “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.” I fret greatly when Christian friendship erodes or a ministry partnership dissolves. Suppressing the compulsion to return to the past and help everybody get the facts straight (according to me of course), hoping to build consensus on the straight record (again according to me), I have questioned how it is possible not to fret.
And then God has reminded me… After the many afflictions of Job and the “pile on” from his naysaying wife and so-called friends, Job had to ignore their errant counsel to blame himself and/or curse God. Job expressed his fretting in Job 30:15: “Terror overwhelms me; my dignity is driven away as by the wind, my safety vanishes like a cloud.” I can imagine Job also saying, “to top it off, my dearest friends and family members have betrayed me in the worst ways so that I am in unending shock!”It is at times like these when the Lord seems very silent – when we believe we have excellent reasons to fret. We experience fretful sleepless nights, self-pity, fatalistic thoughts, emotional stress, and thoughts of would-be retaliation.
When we prayerfully settle down and breathe deeply and are finally silent ourselves, listening… God whispers through His Spirit and written Word and still small voice saying, “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him (Job 40:2a)?” When Job has reached the answer to this one question of his many questions, he concludes, “My ears had heard of You (God), but now my eyes have seen You (Job 42:5).” He understands that God can be fully trusted in and through afflictions. His faith has been tested. He has heard God speak. He has peace. He knows Who God really is.
Jacob’s afflictions were different from Job’s, but God similarly walked Jacob through a painful process whereby he (Jacob) stopped his striving and recognized what God was up to. Jacob was afflicted with rebellion and a demanding spirit. He ended up walking with a limp the rest of his life after a strenuous wrestling match with God. Yes, with God. Unlike Job, Jacob had been a cheater all of his life. God chose to use different tactics with Jacob, taking on a human body to struggle with Jacob and displace his hip. A wounding of a different kind was required to get his attention and transform his life. All for God’s glory.
For God to get our attention, does it have to be a severe wounding? I think the answer is mostly yes. The way God Sovereignly reshapes our lives is not usually smooth. The way He leads us to become new creations is by His design and deep pain seems to be a great vehicle for spiritual transformation. Fretting hinders trust in God. In fact, fretting may only feed and prolong the problem we have of doubting that God is even attentive to our perilous circumstances and shenanigans.
Scripture says evil plotters will wither like grass. That’s a good thing. But thankfully, so will our own old natures wither when we encounter and receive the reality of Who God really is. Sometimes we are the evil plotters. Rebelling, trying to fix or control things on our own, wrestling with God repeatedly. Self-centered plans pointed against us come to a natural end – it is only a matter of God’s timing. But this includes our own self-centered plans against ourselves, too. Sometimes we are the enemy. Many times we are the evil plotters against ourselves.
But, God… God makes us a new creation. When we are reshaped by God, like Job and Jacob, through the wrestling, the wrenching, the tossing, the turning, the agonizing, the questioning, the shaking, the shattering – if we will only gaze upward, as Job and Jacob finally did, our eyes will finally see God and His purposes. Sure, we have heard of Him. But now we will truly see Him. We will surrender to Him. We might even lose the use of a hip. We might even have to start over and have a new family or new friends.
Trusting God, I know I cannot ever be the same again. He will transform me. When I really see Him, my dignity and safety can only be tied to His Providence and provision, not the wind. I will depend on Him alone.
Yes, I have heard of God many times. But, in the shattering, I see Him oh so clearly.