Signposts: Daily Devotions

Sunday, January 25

Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;
Do not fret yourself over the one who prospers,
the one who succeeds in evil schemes.
Refrain from anger, leave rage alone;
Do not fret yourself; it leads only to evil.
—Psalm 37: 7-8

In these two verses of Psalm 37, we have enough wisdom to chew on for days and days. What we are given, in essence, is the way to live peacefully and in harmony with God, our neighbors, and ourselves. The formula for this kind of life may seem impossible to attain, but let's take it one step at a time:

Be still before the Lord:
Harder than it sounds, but absolutely essential.  Please note that this does not mean to "chill out" or "relax," but instead to intentionally center ourselves in God. We cannot take the next step until this happens.

Do not fret over those who prosper in their way:
Remaining centered in God, erase any thoughts of jealousy, envy or judgment toward other people. To fret means "to worry or be annoyed;" another definition is "to cause corrosion, or gnaw into something."  When we fret, we gnaw into our own peace of mind. 

Refrain from anger: 
If fretting corrodes and gnaws, anger eats right into us.  In his book Wishful Thinking, Frederick Buechner writes,

Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back—in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.

Almighty God, the author of peace and lover of concord, help me to center myself in You. Give me the courage to admit my feelings of envy and anger, and the strength to turn away from those feelings toward the light of your healing presence. Amen.