Frustration or Faith in Christ? (Psalm 37)

Bob RoaneLoving and Trusting God, Psalms, Wise living

So do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Upheld by Christ

Dave Dravecky played major league baseball for 9 years, but his pitching arm was amputated in 1991 due to cancer. He then began a grueling journey to search for value, worth, and meaning. Dave’s story addresses loss, suffering, hope, serving others, saying goodbye to the past, and embracing his future in Christ. His journey of suffering was not hopeless. Through his pain and disappointment, Dave discovered the power of endurance, not in his own ability, but in the comfort, encouragement, and hope that God provides only in Jesus. Dave says, “I was struggling with my identity. If I could no longer play baseball, who am I? I realized that my identity was not wrapped up in being a baseball player, but in who I am as God’s child because of what Jesus had done in His life, death, and resurrection.”

This post continues our study of Psalm 37 on the Lord’s good advice to keep us from worrying when things don’t go the way we want or plan. I won’t comment on every verse, but here are some highlights. There is overlap in these items, but different ones may help different readers. Of course, these remedies can help us with other problems in the Christian life and help us to be healthier believers overall.

This post builds on When We Are Frustrated

Take Delight in the Lord (Psalm 37:4)

Instead of being frustrated or annoyed at circumstances, Christ’s followers should be satisfied with Jesus and rejoice in Him. The Apostle Paul wrote Philippians in prison, but his heart was still cheerful in Christ. Philippians is the most joyful book in the Bible! Paul uses the Greek words for joy and rejoicing sixteen times in only 104 verses. He reminds us that Jesus does not give us all that we want, but He puts good desires in our hearts that He then satisfies. Christ says: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”1

Psalm 37 builds on some of the same themes as Psalm 1: Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and who meditates on His teaching day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous (Jesus’ followers), but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Blessed and Happy

The word blessed in Psalm 1 above can also be translated happy. All the Bible teaches that truly happy people are focused on God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and His views on life. That’s what Dave Dravecky learned. Psalm 1 also warns us to stay away from people who influence us toward sin and away from the Lord’s paths. Proverbs says: “There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way that leads to death.”2

Delighting in the Lord means expecting our ultimate happiness from Him and in Him. We must deliberately raise our gaze, redirecting our thoughts and emotions up to God. Remember Paul and Silas in prison, singing and praying. To delight in Christ, we need to get to know Him better through Bible meditation, worship, and serious fellowship with other believers. Lord, help us do that!

Commit Your Way to the Lord (Psalm 37:5)

Dedication to Christ is not just a one-time thing, but a life of ongoing re-commitments. Jesus said: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.3 Proverbs also teaches us about constant re-commitment: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”4 Psalm 37 says that when we dedicate ourselves to Christ, He will make our innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of His cause will shine like the noonday sun.5 If we have been mistreated, slandered, hated, or treated unjustly, the Lord promises to make it right for us in the end.

Be Still and Wait Patiently for the Lord (Psalm 37:7)

This reminds us of James 5: “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! As an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”6

God has promised that He will destroy Satan, his demons, and all who practice wickedness without repenting. But Christ will not bring Judgment Day immediately, because He is still calling sinners to repentance.7 This calls for patient endurance on the part of God’s people who keep His commands and remain faithful to Jesus. The Holy Spirit has promised that one day we will rest from our labor, for our deeds will follow us to heaven.8

A Christ-centered Woman

Fanny Crosby (1820–1915) lost her eyesight as a young child, but she didn’t wallow in self-pity. She went on to be a rescue mission worker, poet, and composer. She was a prolific hymnist, writing more than 8,000 hymns and gospel songs, with more than 100 million copies printed! Here is the chorus of one of Fanny’s hymns:

Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe on His gentle breast,
There by His love overshaded,
Sweetly my soul shall rest.

Prayer: Our Father, helps us not to trouble our heads with braggarts and evildoers. They will pass away. Help us to keep company with Christ and His people to get in on Your best. Help us to cast all our cares on You, because You care for us. Help us to trust that You will always do whatever needs to be done. Help us to quiet down before You and ask for Your help. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.9

To be continued

Notes: 1 Matt 5:6.     2 Prov 14:12.     3 Luke 9:23.     4 Prov 3:5-6.     5 Psalm 37:6.     6 James 5:7-11.     7 Luke 3:1-14, 5:27-32, 11:29-32, 13:1-5, 15:1-32, 24:45-49.     8 Rev 14:12-13.     9 Prayer based on comments by Eugene H. Peterson.