I came across a word in a psalm I had never noticed before. (it’s always happening!)

Ps 37
Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;
do not fret over those who prosper in their way,
over those who carry out evil devices.
 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.
Do not fret—it leads only to evil.

The word Fret, usually it seems the psalms talk of anxiety, but why fret? It only occurs in the Bible in this psalm.
Fret means to gnaw or chew at something, to be visibly and constantly anxious.
It’s a long-lasting anxiety which can be damaging to ourselves – and even to other people.

Whoever wrote the psalm knew that the fear that can come with extreme anxiety can lead to evil. And there is also a way of nursing a real anxiety or fear, imagining all sorts of bad outcomes which may never happen, blaming other people – or yourself, which can then get out of proportion and lead us to do things we regret, say things we may be sorry for.

The psalmist also gives us help to halt the fretting
“Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him
do not fret over those who prosper in their way,
over those who carry out evil devices.”

As we get older there is a tendency to worry inappropriately about things over which we have no control. Headlines in the news, behaviour of other people, those who have flouted lockdown.
“Wait patiently – in the Lord” is a type of prayer, bringing these things to God and leaving them with him.
Easier said than done perhaps, but better than fretting.

[Janet Lawrence]