The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
If you’re not anxious about anything stop reading. If you are, this may put “things” in perspective.
Popular sentiment is partly reflected in the once popular song, “Don’t’ worry, be happy.” It was written by Bobby McFerrin and it is a denial of reality for those who live for themselves. It’s more than a song. It’s a philosophy of life. There are those who would tell us that reality can be created. They suggest that worry can be overcome by thinking happy thoughts, whatever that means. After we awake from our “happy” dreams, life with all its cares and worries is still there.
How then can the book that is without error and always reliable command believers, “Do not be anxious about your life”, Mt. 6:25? Of course, I am referring to the Bible which is God’s word written.
God commands His people not to worry. He does so not because reality can be denied. But that reality is to be embraced. Specifically, God has revealed Himself as the One who always provides for His people. The reality that must be embraced is the truth of God!
Abraham, the father of all who believe in the God of the Bible, declared the truth of the providence of God, see Genesis 22:8, 14. The psalmist wrote, God “provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever,” Psalm 111:5. The Apostle Paul commanded the church in Philippi, “do not be anxious about anything,” Philippians 4:6.
What did Abraham, the psalmist and Paul know? It is clear as we read about their lives and what they wrote they were not ones who denied reality and simply thought happy thoughts. Abraham, for example, was in the process of obeying God by preparing to sacrifice his son, Isaac when he confessed trust in God to provide. Abraham embraced reality and he trusted God. He knew as Paul did that God would never be unfaithful for to do so would be to deny Himself! 2Timothy 2:13 They also knew the God who is always good and only does good!
The popular song quoted above, written by Bobby McFerrin was the number one song in 1988. It presents a seemingly innocent and harmless suggestion. We might describe it as a “feel good” song. But on further examination, it must be noted that Bobby McFerrin didn’t originate the phrase. It was promoted by an Indian mystic, Meher Baba. Meher Baba considered himself to be the Ancient One and god. He believed that he was the real self within everyone. His view of himself is confirmed by one of his recorded statements, “I have come not to teach but to awaken.”
Directly opposed to this philosophy of life is life in Christ. God has not only revealed Himself but He has revealed propositional truth. We don’t need some self-proclaimed guru to find the meaning of life. The source of worry is not our lack of “happy thoughts” or not embracing the god within us. The source of worry is unbelief in the one true God. The God who provides is the one who created all that we see. He is the one who ordains all that comes to pass. He is transcendent, not part of Creation. Yet the Bible says, in Jesus Christ “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,” Colossians 1:20 and in Him we can have intimacy with God.
Bobby McFerrin’s song concerns happiness. As we all know, happiness is very elusive. In the midst of anxiety and worry it’s nearly impossible to find happiness. The impossible becomes possible with God. The Apostle Paul gave advice to Timothy concerning the source of true joy which exceeds happiness. “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy,” 1Timothy 6:17.
There is a connection between the providence of God and enjoyment. God provides and believers enjoy. Only knowing the truth of God will bring joy, the joy that lasts forever. The God who provides is the only One who gives joy. He gives joy by revealing the truth of Jesus to your heart. Knowing Jesus is the only thing that will dispel the worry and anxiety with which we burden ourselves. “Be not anxious!” Trust in God! S.D.G.