Worry challenges almost everyone, regardless of wealth, intelligence, situation, or even circumstance. We all experience negative feelings from time to time—some introduced to us from others but many of our own making. We worry about whether we are raising our children in the best way possible. We worry what someone else might do to hurt us at work or sometimes even at home. We worry about the past; we worry about the future. We worry whether we will have enough money just to get by; we worry about what to do with the money we have. Sometimes we even worry that we worry.
At its core, worry is simply wasting time and energy thinking about things that have not happened and/or that are completely out of our control. We get caught up in the possible negative outcomes we might face and, as a result, lose sight of all the positive experiences we have to enjoy. King David had plenty of reasons to worry. He had the responsibility of all of Israel on his shoulders. He knew the challenges of hunger and the trials of sitting at the king’s table. He had experienced the danger of battle and the intrigue of politics. He had plenty of reasons to worry. Yet, in Psalm 37, he offers this guidance: “Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity” (Psa. 37:1).
“Do not fret.” This is easy to say but hard to do. But David did not simply issue a command not to worry; he gave other guidance to pave the way. “Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass” (Psa. 37:3-5). When you place your faith in the Lord completely, it means handing over all those issues you might otherwise worry about to Him and His care. Rather than worrying about things you cannot control, we should busy ourselves with doing good, which is always in our control. Rather than worrying about what we do not have, we should delight in what we have in a relationship with the Lord, realizing He will care for all our needs. We can either waste our time on matters beyond our ability to affect or we can place ourselves in the hands of the LORD with confidence in what He can do. Once we do this, we will not worry about someone who seems to profit in this world through wickedness (Psa. 37:7) or allow that worry to lead to anger (Psa. 37:8), because we accept not only the Lord’s guidance in what steps to take in life but also in how to go about that life. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand” (Psa. 37:23-24). Once we accept this way of life, we can lay worry aside and concentrate instead on the things that truly matter, saying, “I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread” (Psa. 37:25). Truly this is the foundation of Jesus’ own words when He said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).