Don’t Worry, Be Happy

The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.   (1 Kings 17:16, NRSV)


Pastor-2There is a wonderful story in 1 Kings about the prophet Elijah and his visit to Zarephath.  Here he finds a poor widow gathering sticks to build a fire so she can cook a last meal for her and her son, after which they will surely die.  Elijah tells the woman to cook him a meal instead.  In the end, she is able to feed Elijah, her son, and herself for many days.  Elijah was even able to heal the woman’s son from a life-threatening illness.  (It is well-worth your time to read the entire story contained in 1 Kings 17; you might also read the sections before and after this story that describe the drought and how the Lord intervened.)

I bring this story up today because I recently read an article about sins that the modern church fails to speak against.  By not pointing them out, we are effectively condoning these sinful practices.  The concepts of fear and worry are categorized by some as sin that the church is failing to call-out.  Pastor Jeffery Poor suggests: “Fear and worry permeate our churches.  It’s got to stop.  What’s worse is no one seems to be calling this sin out.  When I have brought this up before I have gotten a response as, “But you don’t understand, if {fill in the black} happens it’s all over.”  I just want to say, “No you don’t understand, if Jesus died and rose again, what does it matter?!”  We don’t need to worry about how much money we have.  What happens to this country.  Or what illness we might get in the future.  At the end of the day no one but Jesus has the power to make any impactful change on our lives.  We literally have nothing to worry or fear.”

In his book Crazy Love, Francis Chan writes: “Worry implies that we don’t quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives.  Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control.  Basically, these two behaviors communicate that it’s okay to sin and not trust God because the stuff in my life is somehow exceptional.  Both worry and stress reek of arrogance.”  (Page 42)

The great philosopher Van Wilder once said, “Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”  That’s right.  But Van Wilder isn’t the only one who talked about worry. Jesus said you shouldn’t worry about anything (Matthew 6:25-34).  But Jesus wasn’t serious was he?  I mean, really Jesus?  Anything?  He was serious.  You see, worrying is symptomatic of a larger issue…lack of faith.  And for followers of Jesus whose primary mission is to show the glory and nature of God to the world, worrying is a problem.

Recently, I read an article in which the author voiced this concern: “My greatest concern is that we don’t want to need God.  We’re Americans.  We’re independent.”  That’s hard-hitting stuff right there.  Americans will do anything to maintain the illusion of control and responsibility, so no wonder worry plagues us.  Worry is the by-product of bearing a weight only God can bear.

Do you see the irony here?  The more independence you desire, the more worry you will experience.  So, why not give everything to God and let his peace reign over your life?

The woman in our story has given up all hope because she has stopped relying on God to care for her.  She has lost her faith.  Elijah reminds her of the truth that her survival depends on her complete dependence on God.  Elijah also speaks to us today.

Don’t worry, be happy,
Pastor Don