Several years ago there was an odd downturn in the culture that made mounted singing bass a must have item. The novelty item was known as “Billy Bass the Singing Fish”. Billy was motion activated and every time someone walked by you got to hear one of his very limited two song set. To be fair, that is pretty impressive for a fish.
One of Billy’s greatest hits was a song made famous by singer Bobby McFerren. Billy Bass would flop and flap his gills while singing the lyrics to “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. Little did I realize that Billy had stumbled onto an important truth. We should not worry because it only makes things worse.
Here is a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don’t worry be happy
In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy……
A story in the Health section of the Dallas Morning News confirmed the fishy philosophy with a larger scale study (sorry).
In a study in this month’s issue of Psychological Science, investigators at Purdue University tracked 1,663 men middle-aged and older over a 12-year period starting in 1988. Regularly testing the subjects’ neuroticism on a standard personality inventory, they found that men who scored above the 50th percentile in neuroticism, and whose neuroticism grew worse by 20 percentile points over the years, were 40 percent more likely to die during the study period than men whose neuroticism remained stable. Fortunately for worriers, the study held some good news. Those highly neurotic men who managed to get their worry under control had about the same mortality rate as men who scored high in emotional stability, considered the opposite of neuroticism.
So we learn from an animated bass and scientific study what the Owner’s Manual told us hundreds of years ago. Jesus talked about the folly of worrying.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6 – NIV)
I believe that worry is one of the first things Satan pulls out of his toolkit. If we spend our time regretting the past and fearing the future we can find no joy in the present. Jesus made it clear that we should not worry. Peter reinforced the principle in his letter.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5 – NIV)
I often see verse 7 as a stand alone but the structure of the passage clearly ties the previous command of humbling ourselves to the action of casting our anxiety. Makes sense to me. When I refuse to humble myself I am still in control. I cannot cast my anxieties on God if I refuse to relinquish my personal lordship. My nature is to desire a Savior, not a Lord of my life.
So I challenge you to follow the advice of the One who knows us best. The advice that is so annoyingly repeated by singing bass everywhere. Don’t worry. Be happy. Because He cares for you and because you are more valuable to Him than any of His creation. And the bonus is you may add a few extra years. For sure your years will be happier if you cast your anxieties on Him.
Mary Crowley was one of the most godly people I have had the privilege of knowing. I will leave you with this wonderful bit of wisdom from Mary C.
“Every evening I turn my worries over to God. He’s going to be up all night anyway.”