Almost everyone has heard the song or phrase “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” As much as it might sound like a mantra, it’s doubtful anyone really takes it to heart. In fact, many people probably think the phrase is a bit cheesy. In fact, in one of Public Enemy’s songs, regarding the phrase, Chuck D famously said “…if I say it, you can slap me right here.”
I’m sure he’s not the only one that feels that way. It’s difficult to have such a seemingly flippant attitude in today’s world, such as it is. A recent blog entry (The Violence of Man) covered how violent the world is. It’s hard not to worry with that problem looming over your shoulder. The same goes for the threats that disease, economic instability, natural disasters, and a whole host of other concerns pose. The idea that one can just brush all those things off and proceed as if they don’t exist seems ridiculous.
Refraining from worrying seems like something that’s easier said than done. However, that’s exactly what Christians are expected to do. This blog addressed that very topic before in the original Don’t Worry post. Still, the importance of the concept and the need for it especially in the midst of everything we face on a daily basis warrants revisiting the topic.
The original post mentioned the following verse:
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? – Luke 12:22-26
Jesus delivered wisdom in a way few others can. It’s easy for us to get caught up in the spirituality of his teachings. After all, he was God in the flesh. However, we shouldn’t miss out on the importance of the practical applications of his teachings. As people, we worry and stress ourselves out about every little problem we face, and it does nothing to help us. In fact, it usually hurts us. That stress can lead us to make mistakes in our work, make bad life decisions, and may even lead to sickness. In the end, what does it accomplish? As Jesus points out – nothing.
Jesus didn’t stop the lesson there though. He continued.
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. – Luke 12:27-31
Jesus gave us the key to being able to avoid worry. We have to have faith. Consider a roller coaster at an amusement park. They are fast, take you high up off the ground, and accelerate in ways that would send you flying to certain death if anything ever went wrong. A high-speed roller coaster ride is likely a more harrowing and death-defying experience than anything most of us face on a day-to-day basis, yet not only do people not fret over roller coaster rides; but, they line up and wait for hours just to ride. How can that be?
Well, we all know that roller coasters have safety measures built into them to keep riders from real danger. We know that they are regularly inspected to make sure that everything is in order. We see the operators check them to make sure we are safe and secure before each ride. Basically, we get on them with the expectation that we are protected from anything truly dangerous happening, and, as a result, no matter how wild the ride is or how much fear it produces, we can enjoy it.
Life is like a roller coaster. It has plenty of ups and downs and twists and turns, and it comes at you fast. We worry and stress because we don’t believe we are protected. We don’t see the strap that keeps us from falling to our doom when life sends us through a loop. What Jesus was trying to explain is that we do have that protection. God is our safety system.
He keeps us secure on the ride. When our financial woes make us feel like we’re hurtling to the ground at 100 miles per hour, he pulls us back up. When our bad decisions have us approaching a turn in our lives way too fast, God keeps us on the rails. When a series of losses has us feeling like we’re stuck in a spiral, He straightens the course. We’re on the ride of our lives, and when we understand that God keeps the ride safe, we can learn to enjoy it regardless of what is thrown at us. We can worry less and spend more time finding ways to be happy.
Jesus finished his lesson by saying.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Luke 12:32-34
Most of us probably get a little nervous when we see Jesus say things like “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” We don’t want to give up the things we worked so hard to achieve and therein lies the problem. Jesus was trying to explain that it is those trappings that lead to our worries in the first place. We stress and we fret because we don’t want to lose things we value whether it be our possessions or our very lives. Jesus wants us to understand that eternal life with God is the one thing that believers can’t lose. If we put more of our focus on that than the fleeting things of the world, then there will be no reason for any of us to worry. If we truly give our hearts to God, then one day we will see him, and then, there will be nothing left for us to do but to be happy.