On Adding Kindling to a Dangerous Fire

I have been waiting my entire adult life to have one. I am thrilled that I finally do.  

I finally have a wood burning fireplace. In my living room.


Ever since we moved into our house this summer, I tiny bit of me began to look forward to the cooler temperatures. I longed to sit on our comfy couch, curled up with my husband to enjoy the unmatched warmth and beauty of logs set ablaze.


Those days have come. And they are wonderful.


Still, every time we have a fire, I find myself a bit amazed at the entire process.  It requires some forethought. We have to bring in the wood from outside, gather kindling, and make sure the lighter is near the fireplace. Then, once it is going, the fire needs to be stoked and monitored. Our little living room fireplace burns through an astounding amount of lumber.


I thought about my fireplace when I did some reading on Psalm 37. There is a phrase repeated several times:


“Do not fret.”

In Hebrew, the word for “fret” is “Charah.” It is the same word used to talk about fire in other places. It can be translated “to burn” or “to kindle.”



To fret is to add kindling and spark to a dangerous fire.


If we are not careful, it can create flames that eat us up and leave us in ashes.


Do not fret because of those who are evil
     or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. – Psalm 37:1-2

  Be still before the Lord
     and wait patiently for him;
 do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
     when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
     do not fret—it leads only to evil. – Psalm 37:7-8


That last line in particular really catches my attention, “Do not fret- it only leads to evil.”


I’ve heard of worry leading to heart attacks, but leading to evil? Really?


But the more I think about it, the more I see why it is phrased so strong. When we fret, our perspective gets completely out of whack.


When we envy others for their successes, we objectify them. We see them only as they relate to our achievements, not how they relate to our God. Instead of seeing their core identity as loved children of our King, we see them as competitors against our status.


Perhaps even worse is what this fretting shows about our perspective of God. It shows we have lost faith in His goodness and power. Somehow, something has happened to make us think the control of our universe in our hands instead of His.


When we let ourselves fret, we put kindling on a dangerous fire: the fire of thinking we know better than God.


Now, those feeling of worry and envy? I think those are natural. Human. It is a broken world, and it is so, so difficult to not feel jealous or anxious.


Fretting suggests we are letting those feelings of envy and worry ruminate.


When we worry, we light a match. We could take that match, and put it out under the cool water of God’s overflowing grace and love. When we fret, we instead take that match and put it under the kindling jealousy and envy and doubt.


The trick is not to try to avoid stumbling into feelings of worry. The trick is to stay close to the God who can help us stop that fire before it burns out of control.


The Lord makes firm the steps
     of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall,
     for the Lord upholds him with his hand. – Psalm 37:23-24  

What happens when you worry? Can you relate to the analogy of a fire?

Walk through the Psalms is a series working its way through the book of Psalms, one Psalm a week, one post a week, in order. It is grounded in the belief that as Psalms swirl through prayers of pain and praise, they paint a portrait of a life of faith. And, as with any walk, it is better with company; all are welcome to join. To learn more, read this.