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Fret Not (Part 4)
LOOKING AHEAD

Part one of this Fret Not blog series, featuring messages based on Psalm 37 (ESV), concluded that Christians should refrain from unrighteous anger when the campaigns of the ungodly prosper. Part two showed how such fretting leads to general neglect in demonstrating love towards those who reject and oppose the righteous. The third part of the series reflected on how the Holy Spirit empowers those who exhibit Biblical meekness while, in the eyes of the world, such an attribute is considered weakness.  

We can all agree that living a life free from fretting, as laid out for us in Psalm 37, isn't easy. I am frequently frustrated and agitated when perpetrators of injustice prevail and, as a result, my initial thoughts are far from loving. How then, in this world full of turmoil and trouble, can we live fret-free, with a heart of love, while demonstrating true humility? As we continue to read Psalm 37, King David presents three practical reminders to help us in this area. He instructs us to look ahead, keep looking up, and stay productive. Now let's explore what it means  to "look ahead" in this blog.  

"Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For
the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who
wait for the Lord shall inherit the land."
Psalm 37:8-9

As followers of Jesus, we must maintain an eternal perspective and never allow it to fade from our view. Though darkness and destruction may encircle us, a keen ability to look ahead keeps our hearts and minds stayed on Christ.

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind
is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."
Isaiah 26:3

Jesus' words in John 16:33 prepare us to contend with a world system that is not reconciled to Himself: "I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." The Lord used these words to prepare His disciples for His impending death on the cross. However, He also intended that these words be remembered whenever engaging in ministry, since hostile opposition could await.

While, on the surface, Jesus' warning may seem ominous, the disciples would also recall the wonderful words of comfort and hope they received from their Master:

"In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so,
would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again
and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be
also. And you know the way to where I am going."
John 14:2-4

On a trip to Vietnam, I met a pastor who had been imprisoned for his evangelistic work. The cruelty he endured was still fresh in his mind as he broke down with grief while telling his story. He experienced terrible torture, ridicule and abuse at the hands of antagonistic guards. When he was released from prison, however, he returned to serve his church. There he continued with the activities that caused his arrest and imprisonment in the first place.

I was astounded that this hurting, broken man still had a passion for proclaiming the Gospel and fulfilling the Great Commission. So I asked: "Pastor, you experienced great suffering while in prison. If you are arrested again, you will go back to prison. How do you prepare for such persecution?"

He looked me directly in the eyes and, with a strong and determined voice, stated: "I know that I live my life in the will of God, whether I am outside or inside prison. The circumstances of my surroundings do not change my calling. And should the Lord determine that I must return to prison, I know He is faithful."

Many persecuted Christians have obtained a profound eternal perspective. When they see the evil of the world, they know Biblically that:

  • Evildoers will fade and wither (Psalm 37:2), and so they pray for their enemies' salvation.
  • Evildoers will be cut off (Psalm 37:9), and so they risk their lives to proclaim the Gospel.
  • Evildoers will soon be no more (Psalm 37:10), and so they love their neighbours for God's glory.  

A day of true justice is coming where each of God's children will witness the punishment of the wicked and experience the reward of the righteous. On that day, we will not rejoice over the obliteration of our enemies, but rather celebrate the fact that Christ has made all things new.

How is your spiritual eyesight? Can you see with eyes of faith that there are greater things still to come? Do the cares and difficulties of life cloud your vision and cause you to despair? If so, I would encourage you to look ahead to the glorious riches that await you in Christ Jesus and have the overcoming faith that's described in Hebrews 11:1:

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped
for, the conviction of things not seen."

Next time, we will explore how "looking up" defeats a fretful life.

sig floyd

Floyd A. Brobbel
Chief Executive Officer
The Voice of the Martyrs Canada Inc.

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