“That really burned me up.” Have you ever said that? I have. That’s why I’ve found it interesting that the Hebrew image behind fret has to do with fire—burning or kindling or glowing. Psalms tells us to “not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes” (NIV Psalms 37:7).
Oswald Chambers wrote that “fretting is wickedness for a child of God.” At first, that seemed a little extreme to me. That’s because fretting, as we might use it today, is more about small things, the emotional push and pull that wears us down. But Chambers also said, “Fretting rises from our determination to have our own way” (July 4).
That I recognized. Even in the small things, and maybe particularly in the small things, we’re determined to get what we want. When we don’t, we fret. And, as Chambers also concluded, we aren’t fretting about God’s plans. He can take care of Himself. It’s worry over ourplans that burns us, rippling through our lives with jealously and peevishness.
Jesus encountered such fretfulness all the time. Someone was no doubt fretting about the lack of wine at a wedding. Peter fretted when they caught no fish. The disciples fretted when they didn’t have enough bread. They fretted during the storm. They fretted on the way to Jerusalem. They fretted over who would be greatest. But Jesus didn’t participate in such fretful worrying. As Chambers concluded: “Our Lord never worried and was never anxious, because His purpose was never to accomplish His own plans but to fulfill God’s plans” (July 4). That explains everything.
When we turn away from our plan and embrace the Lord’s, we don’t have anything to fret about. What others do and how they do it has nothing to do with us. Trusting God’s plan instead of our own, self-effort and self-dependence disappear. And so does our anxiety and fretfulness. The burning desires of “wicked schemes,” ours or anyone else’s, are washed away in the Lord’s fountain of “living water” (KJ John 4:10). (Living Large, chapter 45)