"Do Not Fret"
It’s an image that went viral in the space of just a few hours, and sent political commentators, opinion writers, and comedians into a tailspin. U.S. President Donald Trump standing outside a church in Washington D.C., holding aloft a Bible in the midst of racial unrest exploding across the nation.
But amidst all the political commentary, and comics using it for laughs, one video stood out and caught my attention. It begins like all the rest, using the event for comic (and political) purposes, but then takes a surprising twist.
James Corden is best known for his baby-faced wit and Carpool Karaoke. But on Wednesday evening we saw a different side. After beginning his segment on Trump and the Bible, he introduced us to his father, Malcolm, a former Christian book salesman. Malcolm, James told us, could teach us, and especially Trump, a thing or two about how to hold a Bible, having been a travelling salesman carting them around the U.S. for years. What follows is more comic relief, as Malcolm outlines various ways to hold the Good Book, including “Close to My Heart”, “The Pizza Box”, and my personal favourite “The Underarm”.
But when Malcolm finishes he asks James for permission to read some of his favourite verses from the Bible from Psalm 37. You can read the whole thing here, but it’s one sentence in particular that changes the mood. “Do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes”. Instead of responding with his usual witty repartee, Corden is visibly moved. “We’ll try not to fret” he repeats back to his Dad, his voice cracking.
It seems that if ever there was a time to fret it’s now. As if COVID-19 wasn’t enough, the racial tensions in the U.S over the past week give us lots to be anxious about. And yet as Malcolm reminds us from the Bible, one of the promises for those who know God is that they can know peace from anxiety in the midst of crises such as these.
One final way Malcolm suggests that you can hold the Bible is what he calls “The Open Bible”. As Malcolm explains, “open Bible, open heart”. Perhaps you feel anxious. Perhaps you’ve been fretting. And just perhaps the Bible is a book that you too haven’t opened for a while. Why not consider Malcolm’s advice? Dust off that old one you might have lying around (or just check it out online). And discover the hope that knowing the God of the universe offers to those who trust in Him. A hope that brings freedom from fretting.
"Such an order has long been sorely needed. As someone who has worked on human rights issues for decades, I can personally attest to the fact that human rights concerns in general, and religious freedom issues in particular, are neglected in U.S. foreign policy. Economic, trade, and security issues are put in one “basket,” and are pursued with vigor and persistence. Religious freedom issues are placed in a second “basket”, which is all too often given much less attention by America’s diplomats."