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Do Not Fret

“Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret—it only causes harm” (Ps. 37:8). Easily said. Not so easily done. How do I get past my feelings of anger and chewing on the things that make me angry?

The action words in this verse tell a story. Cease. Stop. If you allow anger to grow, it is virtually impossible to stop it. If it builds up, you will blow up. Stop it before it gets out of hand.

Forsake. Forsake implies that the use of anger has become a belief system. It is no longer an impulsive action, but the one who is wielding the anger believes that it makes a positive difference—perhaps he even believes that it is the only thing that will work in the situation.

Fret. Someone who frets is chewing on the anger on the inside, but not acting on it. He is meditating on what he would like to do or what he would like to see happen to the one he is fretting over. Often, there is fear motivating the person to stay at a place of being passive.

Verse 9 gives the answer: “For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.” Don’t fret. Don’t meditate on would have, could have, or should have. Meditate on what is!

God is righteous. It may seem like the evildoer is getting away with things, but that is only an illusion. Do you believe that God is a righteous judge and that He will make all things right? That is a belief system. Or anger is a belief system.

Anger is closely tied to a desire to exercise power. In Psalm 37:8, the three verbs clearly show a person wanting to exercise force over another person. We tend to believe in our anger as being more effective than waiting on the intervention of God.

Waiting. A word anger does not like. Those struggling with anger want to see an exercise of power NOW. The solution? Meditate on truth. The truth that God is the great judge and that the prospering of the wicked is for a mere moment compared with eternity.

Instead of speaking, acting, or meditating on anger, the person generally needs to speak out loud to self. Stopping the anger happens when we speak truth to ourselves and to the enemy. Say things like: “My job is to wait. God’s job is to judge! Devil, you are a liar. The wicked will not prosper for long. He will not get by with what he is doing. I will be blessed by waiting on God and depending on Him.”

Do you believe in the power of your anger … or in the power of God? Are you meditating on how to carry out your anger … or meditating on what God says about the wicked and their outcomes?

Meditate on God’s Word and His character. Believe in His power. Speak to yourself and the enemy. If you do, you can defeat the tendency toward anger, even to the point where you stop fretting. As the verse indicates, “Why should you harm yourself?”

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