Outrage gets the best news ratings, creates the most viral social media posts, and sends the most voters to the polls.
Yet the psalmist argues that outrage is ineffective in bringing about true solutions. The poet is even more concerned about its effect on our souls, pleading “do not fret” (v. 1). Other translations say: “do not be annoyed,” “do not be bothered”, “do not get upset.”
I don’t think these injunctions are meant to silence our dissent or stop our resistance to the evil things that we encounter, but to invite us to pay attention to ourselves. To invite us to examine the rage and fear and judgment that remain lodged deep within us. To let go of these feelings that will erode our mental and spiritual health if we carry them too heavily and too long.
The psalmist tells us that we don’t have to fret because the Lord sees the same wickedness and wrongdoing we see and will render justice soon. How can I stop fretting when so many people suffer so needlessly because of the life-taking words, actions, and inactions of others? I pray, “Lord, I see who’s responsible! Are you going to do anything about this? You seem to be taking your sweet time while your beloveds perish!”
The psalmist pleads with us to shift our focus away from what our enemies are doing to what we are doing. However, I resist this because I enjoy having targets for my outrage. They make me feel superior. But the psalmist redirects us: Trust in the LORD (v. 3). Delight in the LORD (v. 4). Commit your way to the LORD (v. 5). Do good (v. 3).
What if God wants to use the fire in our bellies to kindle real hope and healing in our outraged world, as we wait for God’s justice?
What are you fretting about? How might you redirect your energy toward God and God’s good for the world?
God, you see the injustice around us and it breaks your heart. May we trust that you will take care of us, and bring the world to justice. Amen.