Don't Worry, Be Happy

(originally published May 19, 2014)

Whenever I think about worry, I instinctively begin singing Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy" song in my head. When and where I learned that song over the years, I do not know. However when it pops to the front of my mind I can't help but hum, "Ooh, ooh ooh ooh oo-ooh." It's a great peppy song, however I think we can all say with a resounding yes that not worrying and being happy is easier said than done.

I have found that instead of singing the tune of this catchy song, the more suitable words for my mind to meditate on are found in Philippians 4. 6-9 (MSG):

"Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies."

Worry is easy for me. Perhaps it's a part of my older-sister-of-three-brothers-DNA that propels me into worry. It's so very easy to get caught up in problems and begin worrying. Can anyone relate? Before I know it, I'm finding myself caught up in all sorts of negative thoughts and the cycle continues. It's rough!

Philippians 4 gives us great perspective in regards to worry, and for the last month I've been reading it daily. I don't know about you, but I have to read something over and over again for it to really take root in my heart and mind. So that's what I have been doing with this passage.

What I have learned is that worry represents a lack of trust in God. It's tough to hear that because we all want to believe we are trusting God while we have a good helping of worry digesting. However the truth is that when we worry, we are not doing that at all! Furthermore, our great and mighty God wants us to trust Him. Do you think worry pleases Him? No! 

Thankfully, we are given a sort of roadmap to lead us out of worry and into peace. The path goes like this:

  1. Go to a place of PRAYER
  2. PRAISE God
  3. And SHARE your concerns and worries with God

The Word says that when we do this, THEN a peace will enter our life. This doesn't mean the problems immediately go away, but it does mean that "Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." I absolutely love that verse! Christ replaces that place worry that was feeding us. 

Furthermore, the ESV states that there is a peace beyond all understanding. Think about that for a moment. If we are worrying, it's typically because we don't know something. We don't have an answer or confirmation on something important. Therefore we worry. However this passage is saying that there is a peace greater than understanding. There is something better than having all the answers! Wow! That's a fresh insight for me because I really do enjoy knowing what to expect. However it's comforting for me to know that when I don't have it all figured out, there's a reason and Christ can take care of that.

The passage goes on to talk about our thoughts. This is very important when it comes to conquering worry, so pay close attention here. We worry because we allow our negative thoughts to carry us away from peace. The truth is, if we want to stay far away from worry we must very carefully guard our thoughts. I am a firm believe that our greatest battle is the one we have inside our head. 

The key to staying away from worry is to keep our mind focused on positive and godly thoughts. It's the pessimists by nature that have the hardest time with worrying. Those with the glass half empty mindset are far more likely to go to that negative place and ultimately, worry. I am ever the optimist and constantly hope for the best, however I get caught up in worry when something doesn't go how I had hoped. I swing the drastic opposite direction to catastrophizing. It sounds a bit crazy, I know. But what I am trying to communicate is that I can understand both lines of thinking and can relate. 

I keep pondering the same phrase in my head: "the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse."  Moving forward as conquerors in Christ, is is important for us to keep this line of thinking. 

Today I challenge you to think about:
The best, not the worst
The beautiful, not the ugly
Things to praise, not to curse

It's amazing what a positive mindset can do for a person! I also know it's just not that easy. I hope you'll try though. And I hope that when you come across a state of worry that you'll praise, pray and share. Allow God to enter your place of worry and displace it. Give it all you got to trusting Him. Your life will be far more better if so. And those things that you worry about will workout one way or another, for God's glory in your life. 

"Don't worry, be happy" does have some truth to it. Each day, you and I have a decision. We have a decision to make about our happiness and whether we'll worry or not. We can't put the expectation of happiness on others or on circumstances. You make the decisions about how you react to your life. What will you choose today?

Just remember: God loves you so much that He have His only Son for you. That's a lot of love for you! If He went as far to give His only Son for you, will He also not take care of you? Be confident in HIs love and commitment to you.

**See also blog concerning peace for further reading