Don't Worry, Don't Be Happy
by Alan Allegra 11/06/2013 / Devotionals
"Don't Worry, Be Happy" is a worn and peeling bumper sticker and the catchy chorus of an old song. Google the lyrics, and you'll be shocked to find it took three people to write the song, which includes a healthy dose of "oo-oo-oo-oo"s. You might say it "oozes" with vapid sentimentality.
There is some truth in the title. Every generation claims this, but there seems more to worry about now than in those halcyon days gone by. Whatever files you open -- economy, moral issues, religious integrity, education, weather, ecology, social relations, government -- the folders are stamped CRISIS in bright red ink. Modern life is fertile ground for the seeds of worry.
Although it might change by time this is published, healthcare is the #1 worry of the hour. Fear of catastrophic health issues and their consequences has led to a government solution which, ironically, has people worried they won't be able to access adequate, affordable insurance. Recent polls indicate people consider health insurance their most important asset, above cars, houses, flat screens, I-whatevers, and tattoos.
Everyone can find something to worry about; however, no one has found a style of worry that actually cures anything. Worry is about as effective as trying to boil JELLO. Jesus said, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life . . . Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:25, 27, 33, 34).
The Bible solution to worry is two-fold: Recognize God's daily provision, and seek to enter his kingdom. Jesus demonstrated how the Father takes care of birds and flowers that do not work for a living, and are worth far less than we are. This is not to say we won't have trouble in our lives; that would be dangerously and callously naïve. Jesus meant, "Do not be like [pagans], for your Father knows what you need before you ask him" (v. 8). There is no need to worry; God has everything under control.
Part two of the chorus says, "Be Happy." That sounds nice in a recording studio or nightclub during Happy Hour, but is woefully unrealistic. The antidote to worry is not slamming your emotions into reverse and stripping your sanity gears; it is trust -- trust in the Word of God. Being happy during crises is the deviant demesne of the demented. Sorrows and fears are perfectly normal in abnormal circumstances; it is worry that is troublesome.
I enjoy not having to worry. I am concerned about family problems, unemployment, dwindling savings, leaky gaskets, creaking bones, and scary people, but I don't worry about them. I take whatever precautions are possible to prevent problems, all in a posture of prayer. Worry can be paralyzing; foresight and faith are freeing.
It is comforting to know that "For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever!" (Romans 11:36). Because "[W]e know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28), we can leave everything in his almighty, all-loving hands. We are called to glorify him in all things by trusting him.
Well, there actually is one thing to worry about. The promises are for those who love God, the called who seek his kingdom. This is contrasted with unbelievers who have no heavenly Father to care for them. Christ also warned, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28). Come to Jesus, and he will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).