I sometimes parody Robert Frost’s old poem by saying, “Two paths diverged in a wood, and I, I blazed a new trail between them.” One should never let tunnel vision limit their achievements. Just because three options present themselves does not exclude the possibility of a fourth. Creatively pondering what other paths one may take may just prompt recognitions of a new trail.
Sometimes, however, our trails reach a dead end. A deep chasm looms ahead or a wall blocks our progress. What shall we do? One possibility is to turn around and go back to our starting point. We also might choose to give up. When some people reach this situation in their lives, they attempt suicide. Almost always, other options exist than surrendering. One may try to climb the wall or build a bridge across the canyon. If a wall, we may look to the right and left to see if passageways exist in those directions. We may even be able to build a door in the wall. Seriously, even when it seems that there are none, options usually exist in life. They may not be our first choice; they may require giving up a long-cherished goal. Sometimes the new path leads in a better direction.
Psalm 37 gives several insights to surviving and thriving when it seems opposition cannot be overcome or that we have run out of options. These include:
“Do not fret” (verses 1 and 8).
“Trust in the Lord and do good” (verse 2).
“Commit your way to the Lord” (includes prayer, verse 3).
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him”(verse 7).
“Refrain from anger” (verse 8).
Keep the word of God in your heart (verse 31).
Follow good role models (verse 37)
“Take refuge” in God (verse 40).
Maintaining calm and trusting reliable counselors (to include God) greatly increase odds for survival and success. Restraining anger and panic is critical. Fear breeds failure. Having a sustained pattern of behavior, especially in scripture study, prayer, and association with other believers, helps but one also needs to learn to wait and to build flexibility. Rigidity paralyzes people when unexpected situations arise. The message of Psalm 37 is that even when situations seem to require new solutions, some basic truths and practices will sustain us. When multiple options exist in life, God’s word will help us navigate the best trail to our destination.