Heathdale flower 14th October 2021

"Don't Worry, Be Happy"

You've heard the song, but where exactly do the optimistic limits lie? Read on to find out how following Jesus gives believers a fresh take on the circumstances they face.

Heathdale flower

I had one of those moment on the weekend! I was working away in my garden with my Spotify selection rotating through to keep me company, when all of a sudden, a ‘blast from the past’ came out of the speaker! It was Bobby Farris’ ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy.’

This song really captured people’s minds. Without any thought it can have you humming, singing or whistling along with the tune. But beyond its catchy tune, T-shirts were produced, car bumper stickers created and even posters encouraged us not to be overcome by life’s difficulties but to focus on simply being happy!

On one level, this is not bad advice, but after a while this mantra starts to wear a bit ‘thin’ because despite the ‘come what mays’ of life, there was a sense of this song being a little shallow because there are times when ‘being happy’ just doesn’t cut the mustard!

The distinction between being happy for the sake of being happy and being able to see the good even in the midst of difficult or challenging circumstances is a distinctive a follower of Jesus is able to have, because they should be able to see life in its full perspective – the way God intended it to be. This is what Jesus was able to do in the moment which is recorded in the New Testament book of Luke; here was a time when the people around Jesus were faced with a perplexing even challenging situation, yet because Jesus is able to see it from a God perspective, His response is so different.

“He said to them, "Where is your faith?" And they were afraid, and they marvelled, saying to one another, "Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?" (Luke 8:25)

The ability to draw breath and look for the good in each moment, even when circumstances are tough or challenging, is something Jesus was able to do. Yet, it’s not meant to be just a special ability He had but He modelled it for us so that we too could exercise this ability every day. As we respond in such a manner, we allow His character to work in us and through us. When bad things happened in the life of Jesus, He didn’t complain but rather faced each challenge and each tough moment that occurred, and viewed such moments through the perspective of the bigger story of God.

If you were to read the whole passage referenced above, you would see how after Jesus healed the demon-possessed man, the local people came out to see for themselves. However, instead of finding the sight and sound of a wild man, totally out of control and so strong that even chains could not contain him – something that they had grown accustomed to – here he was sitting peacefully with Jesus, dressed and in his right mind!

At this scene, the Bible records that, “they were afraid!” How understandable is their response, yet it’s so intriguing. What were they afraid of? A man dressed and in his right mind? A man who was now acting like a sane person?

Their fear was based on the fact that they couldn’t make sense of this scene. It must have been so perplexing to see a man who once was totally uncontrollable, now perfectly sane. Struggling to see this scene from a God perspective, the local people also became afraid of the miracle that Jesus performed.

We don’t always see that God is at work, but rather we see the things that aren’t in order or are out of place; a characteristic of being human is to draw strength from predictability and events that make sense. Have you ever been caught in such a moment where you have seen or encountered something that was not as you anticipated it to be? It may even have been beyond your belief or understanding. How did you initially react? Like most of us, you probably were a little taken a-back, maybe even afraid of what took place.

Because this situation was beyond their belief or understanding, the people asked Jesus to leave and leave immediately! Yet, such challenges and difficulties did not hinder Jesus.

A Bible commentator noted that after being asked to leave, Jesus went to another region and performed some of His most wonderful miracles: He raised Jarius’ daughter from the dead and He fed the 5,000 with five small loaves and two small fish.

Jesus never let challenges or difficulties overcome Him. One of the things we want our students to know and understand is, that followers of Jesus should have the same attitude of faith; of being undeterred by challenges and tough times, but discerning of God’s hand at work. The Staff and I would like to help our students to see things from God’s perspective instead of being fearful. It is then that we’ll realise and sense that God is at work.

Ross Grace Executive Principal