By: Dennis Stackhouse
How much fretting will we do today because of this or that or the other thing? It should come as no surprise to us that life is filled with irritations, and there are times when we try to rebel against them. Did you realize that the lowly oyster is wiser than we are in this regard? Whenever an irritating object, like a grain of sand, gets under the mantle of its shell, what does the oyster do about it? It simply covers it with the most precious part of its being, its very life fluid, and it makes a pearl out of it. The irritation that the grain of sand was causing is stopped by encrusting it with the pearly formation.
Most of us are probably aware that a true pearl is simply a victory over irritation. That may be a good thing to remember the next time we see a beautiful string of pearls; they represent a string of victories over irritation. In Psalm 37:1-6, the writer had some good advice for all of us when he said: "Do not fret because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday."
In this passage the author is boldly confronting a temptation that comes to many people trying to live in a righteous manner: the temptation to be envious of the wicked man's apparent success. Yielding to this temptation could certainly cause the servant of God to think that the way to prosperity will only be gained through evil devices. The relevance of this thought can be verified by examples of godly people who have turned their backs on the Lord because it didn't appear that He was blessing their lives with the things the wicked were receiving. This is one of the irritations godly people must deal with. So the writer is trying to convey the thought that one is far better off trusting in the Lord because the prosperity of the wicked is a fleeting thing, it's not going to last. The person who waits patiently on the lord will receive a reward far greater than anything the evil can possibly conceive of. Psalm 37:7 reads: "Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes."
Every irritation that enters our lives today, every little thing we fret about, is another opportunity to make a pearl; or in the case of a Christian, it's another opportunity to become more Christ-like. The more irritations the devil and the world throw at us, the more pearls we may be able to develop. But this can only be accomplished if we meet these irritations with the proper spirit. We may use them to gain a victory or go down in defeat, the choice is ours. The apostle Paul said this in Romans 5:3-5: "And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." A similar thought is recorded in James 1:2-4: "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
The irritations and adversities we face in life are not meant to defeat us, rather, they are meant to be defeated. They are not meant to bring us down, they are meant to make us stronger. They are not meant to be faced alone, they are meant to be faced in the strength of God (Philippians 4:13). If we can only welcome these irritations and view them as an opportunity to grow stronger in the Lord, more complete in our Christian lives, they will have a positive outcome. And God can use them in that manner, as Romans 8:28 indicates: "God cause all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." The bottom line is, don't fret.
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Gary L. Hutchens