Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Don't Worry, Be Happy!

Dear Friends,
“You might want to sing it note for note
Don’t worry, be happy
In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy”

Back in 1988, Bobby McFerrin’s song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” went to number one on the charts. It was the first “a cappella” song to do so, meaning it’s performed entirely with voices. It was so popular that George H.W. Bush used it as his official presidential campaign song. In today’s contentious congress, this would be a good theme song for our law-makers. It would be an even better theme song for us.

“International Happiness Day” was this past Tuesday and I’d be surprised if that made anyone happy. A recent American Psychological Association survey showed the stress level for Americans has increased in the past year. 51% of us are more stressed than ever and for 20% of us, our stress level is “extreme.” The four biggest stressors in people are the economy, our personal safety, terrorism and our concerns about our health or the health of a loved one. 

For many of us, the older we get, the more worries we have, and we envy young happy children laughing and playing without a care in the world. Is our tendency to worry, in part, why Jesus told His disciples that they must become like little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Mark 10:15 Jesus made the uncomfortable point to His followers that children were better suited for heaven than the adults! Bible commentators believe that Jesus was saying that children live by faith, trusting others to care for them. That’s why small children who have trustworthy parents don’t worry. Here’s one of those kingdom principles that’s uncomfortable to hear because of the inarguable truth of it: “Our worry and stress are in direct, inverse proportion to our trust in God.” Increased worry is the early warning sign of decreased faith. Many of us are like the man who said to Jesus, “I do believe.. Increase my belief.” Mark 9:24 We do have faith and do believe, but if we find ourselves bogged down in the worry pit, we need to ask God to increase our trust in Him. We need to come to Him as dependent and as trusting as a small, happy child.

“Now there, is this song I wrote
I hope you learned it note for note
Like good little children
Don’t worry, be happy”

While this #1 hit single “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” was not a Christian song, McFerrin has said that his Christian faith permeates everything he does. Let’s see now.. Philippians 4:6 says: “Be anxious for nothing” and 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says: “Rejoice always.”  So, be anxious for nothing and rejoice always! In other words: “Don’t worry, be happy!”

“Listen to what I say
In your life expect some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy”

Expect trouble. Jesus guaranteed that you’ll have some. John 16:33 Maybe even a lot of trouble in your lifetime. And when you worry about it, the suffering will increase because you now add the stress of worry to the original trouble and it can seem overwhelming. But when we bring our troubles to our Lord, then “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” Psalm 46:1 and no trouble or tribulation can ever separate us from the love of Christ. Romans 8:35 Don’t let the circumstances of your life dictate your happiness! In Christ there’s a joy for life that becomes intrinsic to our spirit and we’re reminded by that cherished old hymn that, no matter what our life’s challenges,“it is well with my soul.”

And one way to maintain a level of happiness in even the most difficult of times is to find something to be thankful for in all circumstances. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (Not thankful for all circumstances but in all circumstances) Medical science agrees! A psychologist writes that “Giving thanks is wonder; it is appreciation; it is looking on the bright side of a setback; it is fathoming abundance; it is thanking someone in your life; it is thanking God; it is ‘counting blessings.’ It is savoring; it is not taking things for granted; it is coping; it is present-oriented.” She said that, “Because a person’s happiness is directly tied in to their ability to be thankful, their gratitude makes it easier to cope with stress and trauma.” She said, “A positive perspective allows us to obtain a better grasp on suffering. Expressing gratefulness during personal adversity like loss or chronic illness, as hard as that might be, can help you adjust, move on, and perhaps begin anew.” Thankfulness brings happiness and when we replace that frown with a smile, our happiness will then encourage and be a blessing to others!

“Don’t worry, be happy
‘Cause when you worry your face will frown
Put a smile on your face, don’t bring everybody down
It will soon pass, whatever it is
Don’t worry, be happy!” Amen?

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