Earworms are the phenomenon of a song getting stuck in our mind, and playing over and over again as we go through the events of the day, or even a few days. There are songs that are more susceptible to this. The other morning I heard Bobby McFerrin’s song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” on the radio, and I couldn’t shake it for the entire day. I hope I have not planted an earworm in your mind this morning.
But if one is going to have an earworm, there are a lot worse messages to carry with us through the day than “Don’t worry. Be happy.” Actually, the “don’t worry” part of the message is a scriptural admonition. In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus told us not to worry about food, drink, and clothing. Instead of worrying, he encouraged us to seek first the kingdom of God, and promised that if we did so, other things will have a way of falling into place.
The Apostle Paul admonished his friends in Philippi not to worry about anything. That seems a little unrealistic when we think of all the concerns around us. Even if we don’t worry about food and clothing, there are federal budget deficits, attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities, torrential rains as evidence of global warming, North Korean missile tests, government corruption, and any number of socio-political issues that fill the headlines of our newspapers or lead off cable news shows. It seems that there are a lot of things we should be worried about.
Bobby McFerrin reminded us in his hit song, “In every life we have some trouble
But when you worry you make it double. Don’t worry, be happy.” There are troubles around us, but worrying about all these troubles just doubles the anxiety. The Apostle Paul had a solution to our tendency to worry. He encouraged us to replace worry with prayer.
We are to pray prayers of thanksgiving. Sometimes paying attention to the positives in our lives instead of the troubles around us changes our attitude and perspective. When focused on what we have instead of what we lack, we can take a resource approach to daily living. We don’t have the resources to tackle all the world’s, or even all our neighborhood’s problems, but we have the resources to address some of them. Might we always be willing to do the things we are able to do with gifts, graces, and experiences we have.
Secondly, we are to pray prayers of supplication. A supplicant comes with nothing to ask a greater power for help. There are problems in our own lives, community, and the world that we honestly do not have the resources to address. But instead of worrying about these things that we cannot change, we are encouraged to bring them to God. Maybe the medical community does not have the resources to heal an illness, or political leaders do not have the will or wisdom to bring about peace between nations, but we can ask God to intervene. Our trust in a power far greater than our own can allow us not to worry so much, but leave some things in God’s control.
We all know that we are not going to stop worrying. It is part of our nature. But we can worry less and be happier if we remember to bring our cares and concerns to God in prayer.