In 1988, Bobby McFerrin released this famous song, which is still enjoyed by millions around the world as a light hearted, fun, happy song! In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, maybe some would think it a bit shallow. But I would say there is some great truth backing up the song.
In fact, Jesus had some very pointed things to say about worry and teaches us that worry is a waste of time. Every time that song, Don’t Worry Be Happy, comes to my mind, I think of what Jesus had to say about worry.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes?”
“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.” – Jesus, Mathew 6: 25, 34
If I had to use one word that best describes what a lot of people are feeling during this COVID 19 crisis, it would be the word worry. Let me share a definition of the word worry: to give way to uncertainty, anxiety and unease. To allow your mind to dwell on trouble.
I have found that if you dwell too much on the past, it leads to regret. If you dwell too much on the possibilities of the future, it can lead to worry.
So, what are some quick takeaways from what Jesus says about worry in Mathew chapter 6?
First, Don’t Worry – Focus On Today
Jesus says don’t worry about your life and what may happen in the future. I have heard that 90% of what we worry about happening in the future, never happens. Therefore, worry is a waste of time.
There are a lot of people worrying about a great many things: worried about their health, worried about getting the Coronavirus, worried about protecting themselves and their families, worried about their jobs, worried about the economy, worried about their finances, worried about saving and their businesses, worried about the new normal and what it may look like.
Many are asking questions that nobody has the answer to such as: When will this pandemic be over? Will the Coronavirus spread? Will there be a second wave? Is it really safe to venture out into a somewhat regular life with vacations, restaurants, hair salons, shopping? When can we start attending worship or sporting events or concerts?
We can worry ourselves sick about what the future may hold, but Jesus says focus on today. He says, “Don’t worry about tomorrow...” He isn’t saying don’t plan ahead or prepare for tomorrow. He is just saying don’t worry about tomorrow.
Bobby McFerrin puts it this way in the first part of the song,
“In every life we have some trouble
But when you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy
Don’t worry, be happy now”
Secondly, Don’t Worry – Trust Your Heavenly Father
Don’t worry about what you are going to eat or drink or wear...
“These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your Heavenly Father already knows all your needs.” – Jesus, Mathew 6:32
If we are Christ followers and believers, then we don’t need to worry and act as people who have no hope. In verses 26-30, Jesus reminds us that God takes care of the birds and flowers, therefore, surely our Heavenly Father will take care of us. If we are people of faith, we must act and behave as people who have faith, hope and peace in the midst of crisis. We must put our faith into action
It’s also important to remember that this is not the first major crisis the world has seen. It is a very dangerous pandemic to be sure, and we should take it very seriously and abide by the CDC guidelines and Government health officials recommendations. But humanity has been through many other great crises. And, with God’s help and guidance, we will get through this crisis as well.
Here are a few examples of major crises we have seen: 1918 Spanish Flu swept the world and killed 100 million people; in WW2 we lost 75 million people; 1980s HIV AIDS pandemic cost 36 million lives; on 9/11 we lost 2,996 lives in a matter of hours. And, concerning the economy, there was the Great Depression of 1929-1933; the Stock Market Crash of 1987 and 2008; and now the shut down of our economy due to the pandemic has cost us millions of jobs and had a huge impact on the Stock Market. And the list goes on.
My point is this. We will get through this together if we hold onto our faith, work in unison with our health care professionals to combat this virus, trust our Heavenly Father to provide for us and look for ways that we can serve others in this crisis.
Through it all, as people of faith, we can trust the One who created us, provides for us and walks with us in this challenging journey.
Three, Don’t Worry – Seek First
It is very interesting to me that Jesus inserts the following statement into his teaching on worry.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well.” – Jesus, Mathew 6:33
This is one of the most memorized and often quoted verses in the Bible, but most people do not realize that Jesus said this in the midst of this diatribe on why we should not worry.
So, what is Jesus saying here? Instead of worrying, seek God first and His plan for you in the midst of your situation or crisis. He is challenging us to really put God first. Put our faith in action. In other words, do we really believe what we say we believe? Will we actually practice our faith?
John Maxwell says, “Our choices define us. But a crisis reveals us.” A crisis will show what we are really made of, who we really are, how we will behave under stress!
For those of us who are people of faith, may this current challenge reveal that our faith is strong and that we will live it out in the way we love, live, grow and serve!
I want to close with one of my favorite prayers. Maybe you will make it your prayer too, especially during these challenging days when we are tempted to worry.
The Serenity Prayer (by Reinhold Niebuhr)
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”