“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:3-4)
Emotions can go wrong in times of grief. This is the case with anger, but it’s often the case with anxiety, too. With loss comes unwelcome changes and also the feeling that life is unpredictable and unsafe. All of that is the perfect breeding ground for anxiety. Yet, David’s self-counsel wisely guides us through life’s challenges.
In Psalm 37, we see how David repeatedly talks back to his anxious heart. Three times he tells himself, “fret not yourself ” (vv. 1, 7, 8). But he doesn’t stop there. He doesn’t merely say, “Stop worrying!” He also fights against anxiety by entrusting himself to the Lord and each day gripping tightly to the Lord’s promise of a future that is secure in him (vv. 3, 5, 9, 11). He exchanges his anxiety for trust.
Entrust your way to the Lord. Anxiety demands the full understanding of your suffering now, but God is worthy of your trust because of who he is now and forever—our faithful and powerful God. So David fights his anxiety by repeating truths about God and his relationship with him that build upon each other: “Trust in the Lord, and do good” (v. 3); “Delight yourself in the Lord” (v. 4); “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act” (v. 5); “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (v. 7). You can be assured that God is wise and that his plan for you is good.
Be faithful one day at a time. Anxiety pulls your focus away from what is most important today by enlarging tomorrow’s unknowns. David fights back by instructing himself to concentrate on his chief responsibility, that is, to “dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness” (v. 3). Jesus gave the same counsel in Matthew 6:33, by directing us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [the cares of life that you tend to worry about] will be added to you.” Your heavenly Father knows your needs, and will meet them (Matthew 6:25–32). Reminding yourself of these truths will enable you to make daily faithfulness your lifelong companion.
Delight in the Lord by holding tightly to his promises. Anxiety chains you to the here-and-now by distracting you from all the good that the Lord has promised to those who love him. So David disciplines himself to instead take a long-term view on life. God will never “forsake his saints” (v. 28). Believers possess a heritage that “will remain forever” (v. 18). “The Lord upholds the righteous” (v. 17). Even when you suffer harm, he “upholds [your] hand” because your steps “are established by the Lord” (v. 23). As you “delight yourself in the Lord,” he will give you your heart’s desires, since you will desire the right things (v. 4).
Psalm 37 teaches us that the solution to both anger and anxiety is trusting faith in the Lord. No matter how much suffering you may endure on this earth, as a Christian, you have an eternity of blessing awaiting you.
Editors Note: The material from this article is an excerpt from A Small Book for the Hurting Hurt: Meditations on Loss, Grief, and Healing (New Growth Press, 2020).