The Source of Our Problem
When Believers Get Bothered #1
The Source of Our Worry
Psalm 37:1-7
 
I want you to open your Bible today to Psalm 37.  I want to read the first seven verses.  During the next couple of weeks I want us to look at this Psalm to see how we are to deal with it when we as believers get bothered. 
 
Psalm 37:1-7
 
I came across a publication recently that is distributed by the American Institute for Cancer Research that sure did make me feel better.
 
It’s entitled, “Not Everything Causes Cancer”.  The reason they decided to publish this brochure is because of the cancer paranoia that has gripped our country.  Just this week we heard of Angelina Jolie choosing to have a double mastectomy because they had discovered she had a faulty gene that could potentially cause her to develop breast cancer.
 
And I was just happy to discover that not everything causes cancer. Just about everything causes cancer, but not everything.
 
In fact, as late as 2011, there were folks calling for a boycott of Johnson’s Baby shampoo because it contains chemicals that cause cancer.
 
Most likely that stems back to a 1997 study that identified diethanolamine (DEA) as a cause of cancer in laboratory rats.
What they didn’t mention is they applied large amounts of the chemical to the skin of the rats and after about fourteen weeks, there was an increased chance of oral cancer, probably because of the rats grooming themselves.
 
I figure anybody who goes around licking themselves or someone else for that matter probably deserves whatever they get.  That’s the way these things are presented.  We become paranoid and are trying to create a risk-free society.
 
There has never been a time when we are living longer, but enjoying it less because we are worrying more about it than ever before.  Man is living longer now than he ever has lived in the modern age.  Back during the days of the Roman Empire, the average age was 25 years.  Only one out of four men lived to be 50.  It was calculated that just to keep the Roman population maintained, every woman would have to have four babies. 
 
Right now, we are living longer and healthier than ever, yet, at the same time, we are worrying more about it.  We live in a very fretful age.  I guess that is one of the things that caught my attention about Psalm 37.
 
The psalm opens with these words:  “Do not fret”.  I don’t know of anything in the Bible that is anymore up-to-date and relevant than that.  If there is a message that you and I need to hear today, it is this:  Don’t worry.
 
 
 
In a number of the Psalms the very first phrase serves as a title or subject introduction, giving you an idea of the subject or theme of the entire psalm.  Psalm 37 is one of these.
The very first phrase introduces the entire theme to us: Do not fret.
 
Now, here is where the rub comes: even though we’re saved trying to walk with the Lord, sometimes we still find ourselves filled with worry.  And when we read verses like these or the preacher brings it up, it makes it that much worse because now I have to worry because I’m worried.
 
So let’s take a look at this Psalm and wee what we are to do when we as believers get bothered.
 
The Hebrew language is a very picturesque language full of images, and one way you could translate this phrase “do not fret” would be “don’t get all hot under the collar.”  Don’t allow yourself to get all hot and bothered.
 
It is the idea of a person who is frustrated because of some situation.  We sometimes use this phrase:  this just burns me up.  Well, that’s sort of the idea of what the Psalmist is saying.  But there are certain conditions or circumstances as the Psalmist writes that have a tendency to cause these believers to be a little bit uptight, to be filled with fretfulness and fear, and it also has the idea of anger in it.
 
The Psalmist’s word is simply this:  whatever the situation is, don’t allow yourself to become filled with fear, fretfulness, and frustration.  Don’t allow yourself to be burned up to the point of fretting over the situations that you face.
That is significant to me because it indicates that even though I am saved, I still find myself in fretful situations.
 
Now I know there are some super-spiritual among us who would say if we are filled with the Spirit as we ought to be and we are as full of faith as we ought to be, we’ll be able to rise above everything. Life will be smooth and easy for us.  God will take all of these barriers out of the way, and we will move through life without ever having a ripple.
 
The only thing wrong with that is that it is wrong.  The Bible doesn’t teach that just because we trust the Lord, and just because we are his people, that we are exempt from the everyday trials of life.  We are not.  We are still part of this human situation.
 
And as long as we live in this world--this flesh, no matter how saved or Spirit-filled we are, you and I are going to be faced with those situations in life just like anybody else.  Sometimes they tend to fill us with fear and anxiety and fretfulness.
 
And I think it important for us as Christians to understand this so we won’t think something has gone wrong when we find ourselves in one of these situations.
 
So what I want to do tonight is look at some of the sources of our worry.  Then on the next two Sunday nights, we’ll look at the solutions to our worry.  And actually, I hesitate to call them solutions to worry; perhaps alternatives to worry is a batter choice of words for what the Psalmist says for us to do in this situation.
Tonight I want us to examine what specifically it is that causes us as Christians to fear, or to be angry, or frustrated. Now, it is significant that  the Psalmist is talking about things that are particular to Christians.  In other words, there are some things that might anger a Christian or cause him to be fretful or worry that would not cause a lost person to fret and worry.
 
Think about that:  The moment you begin to believe in the Lord, and become a person of faith, you have certain problems that other people do not have.  There’s you something to worry about, right?
 
So the things we are going to be talking about  are things that are specific to Christians.  Let me point out three of them from this text.
 
First of all, there are
 
1. The Injustices of Life
 
Verse 1
 
Did you catch the potential for frustration in his warning?  He is saying there is the possibility that even though we are God’s people, there is something about the wicked that we might come to envy and that leads to frustration.  And the frustration is that so many times they seem to be so successful so he says don’t be envious of the wicked.
 
Then notice verse 7
 
Now here the idea is that here is a godless man, and he is all the time scheming and planning strategies, and every one of them is successful.
And here you are, a child of God, striving to live for God and honor him, and it seems like everything in the world is coming apart at the seams.
 
Too put it in more modern terms, you’ve got a neighbor across the street who doesn’t care about God, and lives as if there is no God, and everything seems to be going well for him while you struggle.   His boy is the captain of the football team; yours is struggling with learning to tie his shoes.
 
His daughter is the head cheerleaders; yours has braces and pimples.  His wife is beautiful and healthy; yours is . . .beautiful and healthy also in her own way.
 
Don’t you hate people like that?   Everything seems to be going well for them, and the fellow has no use for God whatsoever.
 
See here is something that is peculiar to those of us who are saved.  We believe that God owes us special treatment and that life ought to be fair—at least a little bit.  After all, if I am a child of God and if I am striving to live for and honor him, I think God ought to take that into consideration.
 
And when God starts passing out all the calamities of life, He ought to remember that I am His child.  And whether we like to admit it or not, we feel like we should get special treatment.
 
Yet, the psalmist is saying that the truth of the matter is that we oftentimes will look at the wicked, and they seem to be getting along so well that we become envious of them.  That leads to frustration and fretfulness.  Here I am.   I’m praying.     
I’m doing everything I know to do, and everything is coming apart, but not for the wicked person.  So sometimes the source of our fretfulness is the injustices of life; the fact that life is not fair.
 
Some of you are familiar with the book written several years ago by Rabbi Harold Kushner called When Bad Things Happen to Good People.  It became a best seller in 13 different countries.  When asked what caused him to write the book he said he had been a rabbi for years and had seen a lot of people die, stood beside bed of many a person as they have gone out to meet God.  He said that never one time did it cause him to question his faith.  But when he saw his fourteen-year-old boy dying of that horrible aging disease, suddenly for the first time he had a problem.
 
It’s easy to philosophize about suffering when you are not suffering.  It is amazing that when the wreath is hanging on your own door how different everything looks different.  When it’s your son, your flesh, everything looks different.
 
That’s when we say, wait just a minute; this isn’t supposed to be this way.  I’m trusting God.  I’m as close to God as I know how to get.  It would seem to count for something.  Yet, here is my son dying.
 
I said earlier that the person of faith has problems that other people do not have.  How do we respond to the needs and problems that exist all over the world?  Watch the commercials of starving children in third world countries and try to anser the critics questions when he says, “Why doesn’t God do something about that?”
The atheist has a good argument that we wish would go away, but it won’t.  If there is a God of absolute goodness, power, and sovereignty, then how do you explain all the injustice in the world?
 
An atheist  would just say that was the way the cookie crumbles, que sera sera, into every life a little rain must fall, and there’s no problem.  But when I say that I believe in God, and I believe in a God who rules with all power, goodness, and wisdom, I’ve got a problem.  How do you explain that?
 
I’ll tell you how the rabbi explained it.  He came to the conclusion that God was not sovereign.  As a matter of fact, one of the chapters in his book says God can’t do everything, but he can do some important things.  He came to the conclusion that God can do nothing about death, disease or the devil.
 
Well, good night, that’s my main worries!  Take away those three things, and you really don’t need God anymore, do you?    This allows him to still believe in God and still accept the injustices in his own life.  God is not sovereign.  God would do something if he could, but he cannot.  Well, I can’t come to that conclusion.  I would have to throw away the Bible.
I believe the Bible teaches very clearly that God is absolutely sovereign and in control of this world.  Then how do you explain the injustices of life?
 
What bothers me is not so much that bad things happen to good people, it is when good things happen to bad people.  If it just all evened out, that would be all right.  This is what the psalmist is saying:  we are envious of the wicked.
 
The first thing I think we need to understand is that one of the things that causes us to fret as believers, and sometimes become filled with a frustrated kind of anger, is the fact that life is not fair.  Life is not always just and equitable.
 
The second thing that the psalmist mentions or alludes to is
 
2. The Inactivity of God
 
As you read through these verses, you’ll notice that God makes a promise.
 
Notice verse 2
 
Verse 9, 10
 
 
Now first of all, I need to talk to the Lord about His definition of soon.  I don’t know how old the book of Psalms is but that’s not soon.
 
And secondly, if every time somebody sins, God did something about it, that would resolve a great many of our questions.
The real problem is that they seem to be getting along just fine, and God doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it and I just don’t understand why God doesn’t do something.  I’ll guarantee you if I were God, I’d do something about it!
 
One of my favorite prophets is Habakkuk.   He opens his prophecy with a complaint.  He says, Lord, how long will I have to cry out unto you?  Lord, why don’t you do something.  The Chaldeans are coming.
Internally our country is corrupt, and externally the Chaldeans are coming.  Lord, I have been screaming, praying, and Lord, you are not doing anything.
 
One of the frustrating things to us as believers is that at times it looks like God isn’t doing anything.  How long have you been praying for that situation?  It seems God hasn’t moved yet.  And to us it looks as though God is not working, but the fact of the matter is that God is always at work.  He really is.
 
Habakkuk says, Lord, you aren’t doing anything.  In verse 5 God comes back and says, “Well, I am doing something, and I’m going to tell you but you won’t like it when you hear it.  Behold and believe, I’ll show you a wonder you will not believe though you see it.”
 
Well, all right, Lord, if you are doing something, I wish you would tell me what it is.  After all, the Chaldeans are about to come and take us.  If you are doing something, I would surely like to know what it is.
 
God said, Let me tell you what I’m doing:  I’m raising up the Chaldeans and I’m going to use them as an instrument of chastisement because of your sin and idolatry.  You’ve been praying I’d do something about the godlessness in your country.  All right, I’m doing something about it.  I’m raising up the Chaldeans.
 
The interesting thing to me is that the very thing that made Habakkuk think that God was not at work was the very work that God was doing.
 
Every once in awhile somebody will say, well, the Lord has really started to work in our church.  What we mean by that is that God has finally started behaving like we want him to behave.  But the truth is, folks, he who watches Israel neither sleeps nor slumbers.  God is always at work.
 
What arrogance you and I have to say that God isn’t working.  We say, do you remember when God was working a few years ago, back when everything was going great.  God was answering every prayer.  We were doing well financially.  The kids were behaving themselves.  Oh, wasn’t it great when God was working?
 
Now, times are bad.  What right do we have to say that God was working then and isn’t working now?  God is always at work.  It only looks as though he is inactive, and that causes us to be frustrated because it appears that God is not doing anything.
 
Sometimes it’s the injustices of life.  Sometimes it appears God is inactive.  And sometimes, it is
 
 
3.  My Ignorance of God
 
I’m convinced that if I knew God like I ought to know God I would never have a fretful moment.   What I think is indifference on the part of God is simply ignorance on my part.  What to me at times looks as though God does not care or that God has lost control is simply ignorance on my part.  This ignorance takes two forms.
 
Sometimes I’m ignorant of God’s time schedule. 
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, God works on a different time schedule than we work on.  I’m in a hurry.  I keep looking at my watch because I’m a time and space creature. I feel pressured not only by the clock but by the calendar.  I know that my life has a certain number of days and years to it.  Things have to be done now.  God, why don’t you answer this prayer now?  After all, time is passing.  By this age I ought to be further down the road than I am.  Lord, why aren’t you doing anything?
 
I fully believe God doesn’t own a clock or a calendar.   If God knew what time it is, or how late things are, certainly he would do something.  I always like to make at least one profound statement in every message.  Sometimes I’ll tell you what it is; otherwise, you wouldn’t recognize it as profound.
 
This is it. Write this down:  With God timing is more important than time.   It is just the opposite for me.  Time is so important.  But with God timing is more important than time.
 
Moses had the right idea—just did it at the wrong time.  He was about 40 years too early in trying to deliver Israel from Egypt.  It has always amazed me that God took 30 years to get Jesus ready for a three and one half year ministry.  When he showed up at 12, and mystified all the teachers, if that had been us, we would have put him on the sawdust trail and said: Boy Preacher Astounds His Professors Everywhere. My soul, don’t you know the world is going to hell.  What do you mean going back to Nazareth and hiding yourself for 18 years?
 
 
Lord, don’t you know how urgent everything is?  Yet, God just seemed to take his time because with God timing is more important than time.  I’ve come to believe that God takes a lifetime to get us ready to do one or two important things.  God works on a different time schedule and that frustrates us and makes us anxious.
 
Here’s the second thing:
 
Sometimes I’m ignorant of God’s Values
 
 God not only works on a different schedule than mine, He also works with a different value system.
 
Now this is where the rub really comes.  The things that are valuable to us are not necessarily valuable to God.  Our value systems are different.  If I were to say to you today that God is good, what do you think of immediately?   I think of good in the sense of convenience, comfort and circumstances.
 
I’m going to be honest with you.  When I find myself in an adverse situation, my first response is not:  Oh, boy, here is another chance to trust the Lord and develop character.
 
Hopefully I’ll get there eventually.  But I generally don’t start there.  My first thought is:  God, you’ve got to get me out of this.  This can’t be the will of God.  The devil has gotten in here somewhere.  When I think about God being good to me, and you are praying for God to bless me, I know exactly what you are talking about. And that is the problem because  God works on a different value system and may have something completely different in mind.
 
Do you ever visit garage sales and antique stores and auctions?  Isn’t it amazing how much money
things that were worthless 50 years ago bring today?
The things my parents threw out as junk could have made me rich if they would have just hung on to them.  Dad had a ’37 Chevy pickup that he sold to his brother-in-law for $50 who then turned around and sold it for $100, thinking he was really doing something!  It makes me wonder what I’m throwing away that could be valuable. We just throw things out because they’re junk!
 
Listen:  that’s how we pray sometimes! Lord, get this junk out of my life.  I need to be rid of all this stuff that’s holding me back.  But God says, “Oh, no, hang on to that. You don’t realize what you’ve got there! It may not look like much today, but one of these days it will be valuable.”
 
 I just don’t always have the same standard of values as God.  I think God is more interested in creating in me a Christ-like character than he is in making me comfortable.
 
One of the problems with most of us is that we have so much stuff we don’t know which things are necessary.  That’s why we question what God is doing.  He puts His hand on something in our life to remove it, and we think, “Oh Lord, if you remove that, I’ll die.  I can’t live without it.”
 
On the other hand, He leaves stuff that seems to be terrible.  That frustrates me because I think I’ve figured out what is important in my life.  God comes along and shows me that it is not as important as I thought.
 
These are some of the basic things that I think cause us as believers to fret:  the injustices of life, the idea that God doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it, and the fact that I’m so ignorant of what God is up to anyway.
 
So what do I do?  What is the alternative?  We’ll have to wait until next week to see.  I guess if you’re worried, another week won’t hurt you.  But the short of it is, I must choose to trust God.
 
We see that in verse 3.  When I don’t know why things are happening, and I don’t know why God doesn’t do something and I don’t even realize that He is, still, I will trust Him and do good.
 
Let’s pray
Contents © 2021 Trinity Baptist Church • Church Website Builder by mychurchwebsite.netPrivacy Policy