Not Don't Worry, Be Happy
In the 1980’s the phrase, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” became popular. There were t-shirts with a smiley face and this phrase and of course the number one hit song by Bobby McFerrin in 1988. Simplicity can be very catchy so the phrase stuck in people’s heads.
But to me that seems a little too simple. What do you mean don’t worry? What about all these things that are going on around the world? What about these new health warnings I hear almost every day? Coffee, salt, fat, sugar, wine… one day they say these extend my life the next day I’m told they will kill me. Between wars and rumors of wars, and just trying to pay bills and stay healthy of course I’m worried! But “Be Happy,” may even be worse. I cannot just be happy. Too many suffer, too much injustice, too many sin-stained people walking around wreaking havoc in people’s lives. No, I’m not happy.
But the phrase is not too far off the mark. Let’s tweak it slightly. “Rejoice, Don’t be anxious.” Now we have a quote from Jesus and it’s better! Joy is contentment and a state of peace even in the face of adversity. I can be happy in an amusement park but I can have joy even as I experience suffering.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice…. do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 3:4,6).
Paul does not say “Be Happy,” but he does still use the imperative. He says “rejoice,” not once but twice. Then he tells us to not be anxious but also tells us how. We are to make all requests known to God in prayer. I cannot help but worry when I hold stuff in, but when I pray it’s like a huge burden being lifted from me. I can rejoice and I can stop worrying when I connect to Jesus, but not on my own.