Don’t worry be happy. (June 2016)

Dear Friends in Christ,

Do not fret—it leads only to evil. (Psalm 37:8)

“Don’t worry be happy,” is a well know phrase from a song by Bobby McFerrin that was popular in the last part of the 1980’s. This song was designed to capture a sort of “easy going” mindset. The phrase however was not original to McFerrin. The phrase is actually attributed to Meher Baba (1894-1969) was born to Zoroastrian parents in Poona (now Pune), India. (Hopkinson, Tom & Dorothy: Much Silence, Meher Baba Foundation Australia, 1974, p. 24) This phrase was used on inspirational cards and posters during the 1960’s. The story goes that McFerrin saw one of these posters in 1988 when staying at an apartment used by the jazz duo Tuck & Patti in San Francisco. The phrase inspired McFerrin to write the now famous tune by the same title, Don’t Worry, Be Happy. I have included a sample of the lyrics below:

Don’t worry, be happy
In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy.

This song is not Christian nor are any of its stanzas but the above line does echo Christian truth found both in the Old and New Testaments. A rather innocuous example of this can be found in 1 Samuel 9 in the story about Saul meeting the prophet Samuel. Saul is worried about finding his father’s donkeys and about his father worrying about him and his servant.
5When they reached the district of Zuph, Saul said to the servant who was with him, “Come, let’s go back, or my father will stop thinking about the donkeys and start worrying about us.” …
19“I am the seer,” Samuel replied. “Go up ahead of me to the high place, for today you are to eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is in your heart. 20As for the donkeys you lost three days ago, do not worry about them; they have been found. And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and all your father’s family?”
Here, if Saul had acted on his worry about his father’s potential worry he might have been delayed or missed all together acting upon being called to be king.

A more famous example comes from the lips of Jesus and can be found in Matthew 6:
25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. …
27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28“And why do you worry about clothes? …
31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Then we have Jesus’ comment about worry while instructing his followers about the coming persecutions in Luke 12:
11“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”
We also have Jesus’ similar instructions in Luke 21:
13This will result in your being witnesses to them. 14But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.

My personal favorite comes from Psalm 37. This psalm deals with the justice of God. It wrestles with the age-old questions, “Why do the wicked prosper?” or conversely, “Why do the righteous suffer?” Psalm 37 does not in and of itself answer these questions what Psalm 37 does is carefully move us with its poetry to ask, “Who rules the world?” and “Where can salvation be found?” Clearly the psalmist conviction is that, God rules the world and in God salvation can be found. These convictions can be seen in second half of the seventh stanza where we hear,
13but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.
and in the last stanza where we hear,
39The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
40The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

In this psalm we are taught that the righteous live not on basis of what they see in the present but on the basis of what God has assured them of in the future. Because of this, the psalmist can say in the midst of evil, of the prosperity of the wicked, of persecution, of poverty, and of famine “do not fret.”

In fact, we are told “do not fret—it leads only to evil.” Worrying always leads us into sin. Some of us are actually silly enough to think that worry and anxiety are indicators of wisdom. They are actually indicators of how little we trust God to be faithful. Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest said, “Fretting rises from our determination to have our own way.” and “All our fretting and worrying is caused by planning without God.” Chambers is right. If we truly trust God, then what do we have to worry about? Nothing.

So friends, I leave you where we started.

Don’t worry, be happy
In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5&6)

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Walls