“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”

December 16, 2018


From the song in the movie classic “Bye, Bye Birdie” that urges us to “Put on a Happy Face” and Bobby McFerrin whistling “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”, to the cartoon characters Ren and Stimpy singing “Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy” we are constantly urged to look happy, even when we are not.  “Smile!  It’s not so bad.”  “Come on.  Cheer up!  Things will get better.”  People don’t like to see other people unhappy, even when they know that they really are, because it either makes us sad, or makes us feel guilty for being happy.  And we certainly don’t like to be unhappy ourselves.   We self-medicate in all sorts of ways, most of which only make things worse, in our misguided efforts to suppress feelings of grief, sadness, and depression. 

Did you know that God doesn’t want you to be unhappy either?  I know at times it might seem like He does.  Today’s world doesn’t exactly fit the description the angels gave of peace on earth, and great joy to all people.  Every day we hear of mass murders, child abuse, drug overdoses, natural catastrophes, and tragedies of every possible description.  Within our own families there is sickness, cancer, financial problems, accidents and injuries, and the deaths of those near and dear to us.   And of course, these are all going to cause us grief.  God knows this.  “Well” you say, “if he knows this, they why doesn’t he do something about it?”  He did.  He sent Jesus.  The reason we all suffer while we are on this earth is because of sin.  Sin is like a spiritual virus that permeates every living being on earth and even the earth itself.  We have all been corrupted by this deadly virus.  It has been passed down from generation to generation within our spiritual DNA.  It might express itself more in some than others, but we are all infected.  And Jesus is the only cure for it.  Everything else we try in an effort to escape the results of sin and the despair that it brings, will at best only bring a temporary escape, a fleeting hope, and a transient bit of superficial happiness.  But ultimately nothing but Jesus will bring lasting joy.  

Once we truly understand the concept of sin and desire to rid ourselves of it (which is what it means to “repent”), and turn to Jesus as our Savior and Lord, putting our faith in his atoning sacrifice for cleansing and salvation, believing he is the eternal Son of God who rose from the dead and prepares a place in heaven for all that trust in Him – then, and only then, will we have real joy.  The deep down, joy in the spirit, that will not be affected by the circumstances that surround us.  The joy that nothing and nobody, not even Satan, can take from us.  Because we know that no matter what happens to us here, no matter how many problems, trials, and disappointments we have to face, we have something so wonderful we cannot even imagine it waiting for us.   This gives us the strength to overcome everything that Satan can throw at us.  Because we know that someday there will be no more sickness, there will be no more pain, physical or mental.  There will be no worries, no anxiety, no stress.  There will be no aging and no death.  There will be no long, grueling hours at work to put food on the table, for we will live in the City of God and feast at His heavenly banquet.  No more homelessness and starving children.  No more violence.  Even the animals will be at peace with one another and with us.  Those who have not put their faith in Christ do not have any of this to look forward to.  All they have is their life here on this earth, and then something far worse afterwards.  They may hope for nothing but non-existence after their life here, but even that hope will never be realized. 

So why has God let everything go on for as long as it has?  Because, like the apostle Peter said, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  (2 Peter 3:9).  Jesus is coming back a second time.  The first time was so he could atone for our sins, thus obtaining for us the only way we could be cleansed of them and live in His heavenly kingdom for all eternity.  But, when he returns, all of our hope will be turned into joy forever. 

As the apostle Peter also said, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance - an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

So be truly glad.  There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.”  (1 Peter 1:3-9)

Do you have that inexpressible joy?  If not, you need Jesus!  His open arms are waiting for you.  And if you do, then are you keeping it all to yourself?  We aren’t called to be one of those people that just slaps someone on the back and says “Cheer up!”.  We are called to share our joy.  How do we do that?  By sharing the love of Christ!  And that doesn’t just mean in words, it means in actions as well.  The apostle James said, “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”  (James 2:16).  It may seem easier to do at Christmastime, but in reality we should be sharing the Gospel and helping those in need year round.  And the best thing about sharing our joy?  The more we share it, the more of it we have ourselves!   Amen.

Children's Message: