Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31)
Singer and songwriter Bobby McFerrin released one of the most popular songs of all time in 1988 — “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” This song became an unofficial anthem, not just in Jamaica, which was still reeling from the terrible devastation wrought by Hurricane Gilbert, but all over the world. The lyrics include these words:
In every life we have some trouble; When you worry you make it double. Don’t worry, be happy.
If ever there was a tendency to minimize the pain of suffering, we see it in those words. To be sure, we are to give worry to our Lord when we find ourselves battered by the storm winds of life. But we are not to deny the reality of the pain we are experiencing along the way. God is in sovereign control of all things, including the difficulties we face in life, and He is using all of it to conform us into the image and likeness of His Son, Jesus. From the tiniest sparrow to the exact number of hairs on your head, God is caring for all things . . . and that includes you.
Nothing happens to you that does not first pass through His nail-scarred hands. We are never to go looking for suffering in our lives, but we are never to run from it either. We must receive whatever suffering God ordains in our lives and let God use all of it to grow and mature us in our faith. When we say that God is good all the time, we must remember that this includes those times that don’t feel good. God is far more concerned about our character than He is about our comfort, and He will use any and every means necessary in His perfect process of making us more like Jesus.
When we deny life’s difficulties, we are not delivered from them; we are actually driven deeper into a state of despair. Here’s a thought: Instead of “Don’t worry be happy,” how about, “Don’t worry be honest”? When reading through the psalms, we see the honesty of the psalmists, who told God exactly how they were feeling during difficult circumstances, knowing that God is ready, willing, and able to receive the honest cry of the human heart and respond to it.
If we are going to sing, “Don’t worry be happy,” let us sing with these words of James in mind:
Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!